Sparks fly in heated race Lawyers Mulford, Samorajczyk vie for Annapolis-area seat

Claims, rebuttals abound

Rivals for seat on council allege hypocrisy, favoritism

September 30, 1998|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Two lawyers seeking one position. An abundance of colorful claims, counterclaims and rebuttals.

The contest for the Annapolis-area seat on the Anne Arundel County Council is one of the hottest this election cycle -- It's a showdown between two attorneys whose connections are surpassed only by their allegations.

The incumbent is Republican William C. Mulford, an ally of County Executive John G. Gary and a former assistant state's attorney who has prosecuted some of the county's most famous criminal cases.

Arguing the case for Mulford's removal is Democrat Barbara Samorajczyk, an environmental activist who until recently represented developers.

Mulford claims that Samorajczyk's credentials as a preservationist are discredited by her years of legal work for the West Group, a Fairfax Va., commercial development firm.

He also says her description of herself as a grass-roots community activist is undermined by the fact that she has lived in the Annapolis area for only six years and resides in a $675,000 waterfront mansion.

He also notes that his opponent was registered as a Republican when she announced she was running against him in March, then switched to the Democratic Party in May.

"I find it ironic that she was a developer's attorney and made enough money to retire to a waterfront home. Now she's claiming she's an environmentalist and a community activist so nobody will build around her," said Mulford, a 38-year-old resident of Highland Beach.

Samorajczyk, a 52-year-old resident of the nearby Annapolis Roads community, is just as pointed in her attack on Mulford.

She describes him as a "rubber stamp" for his friend the county executive who, Samorajczyk says, does favors for developers.

Samorajczyk argues that although Mulford represents the Annapolis area on the County Council, he has twice voted to raise taxes for city residents when taxes were not raised for other county residents.

Work is defended

And she says her former work for a development company is no more of a conflict than Mulford's position as a former prosecutor who is now a defense attorney.

"He's calling me a hypocrite?" Samorajczyk asked.

"He can't deal with the issues, so he is dealing in personal attacks. I have spent the last four years representing community groups in their efforts to protect their environment and quality of life."

Samorajczyk lists as one of her greatest accomplishments helping neighbors to fight against the proposed Homeport Farms development beside Church Creek on Route 2 south of Annapolis.

"She's been very helpful as a watchdog for community groups, using her legal training to recognize problems in planning and zoning," said Scott Mobley, president of the Annapolis Neck Peninsula Federation of neighborhood associations.

Samorajczyk said her work with the West Group for seven years during the 1980s taught her how responsible builders can work. And she said she switched parties in May only because the county's Republican Party discouraged her from running.

Accomplishments listed

Mulford, who successfully prosecuted the high-profile sexual-abuse case against county teacher Ronald W. Price while he was an assistant state's attorney from 1987 to 1994, said he has accomplished several things during his four years on the County Council.

Mulford said he voted for budgets that -- even with a tax ceiling -- allowed for the hiring of 273 additional teachers and 105 police officers.

He said he has smoothed the sometimes rocky relations between the city and the county, in part by supporting the county's plan to pay $750,000 toward the renovation of West Street. And he said that the tax increases for Annapolis residents are dictated by a complex formula the courts have twice upheld.

Warren Duckett, the county's Democratic state's attorney from 1973 to 1988 and Mulford's former boss, said Mulford is a tenacious worker whose loyalty to the county executive should be praised.

Pub Date: 9/30/98

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