Democrat Mann wants county residents to have more influence on commission First-time candidate feels leaders have lost touch with their constituents

Campaign 1998

October 21, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Roger Larry Mann, Democratic candidate for county commissioner, wants to ensure that Carroll residents have a greater voice in government.

To that end, Mann would encourage more citizen participation in budgeting and planning, implement an open-selection process for public posts and draft a citizens' bill of rights.

Though Mann has never held public office, he believes his platform will win him one of the three county commissioner seats in next month's general election.

Mann received 27 percent of the vote in the primary. He was second to Union Bridge Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr., who captured 28 percent of the vote. Maxine Carole Wooleyhand of Sykesville was third, with 25 percent of the vote.

"My theme is 'Commissioner for Citizens,' " said Mann, 49, who believes that local leaders have drifted away from the people they represent. "I believe in government that encourages citizen participation in all issues -- growth, urban planning and education."

He refuses to accept contributions because he "doesn't want any political conflicts." Mann, who owns and manages several residential duplexes in Westminster, said he has funded his grass-roots campaign with $2,000 of his money.

"This is a small election, it's not like running for governor. You don't need television ads," said Mann. "There are other candidates with more money, but this campaign isn't about money. It's about the issues, about what the candidates think."

Mann sees citizen input as the main issue. He has repeatedly said that if elected, he would create a "citizen-based" budgeting process.

The open approach Mann advocates would require a series of meetings throughout the county before budgeting decisions are made.

"The meetings would be similar to the forums we had leading up to the primary," Mann said, referring to public debates that were sponsored by citizens groups and held in Westminster, Finksburg, Manchester, Taneytown and Hampstead.

The budget meetings would provide county commissioners with the input they need "to strike a balance between the need for services and citizens' willingness and ability to pay for those services," Mann said.

He said he would also encourage more input from residents for the county Master Plan, which was shelved last month by Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Richard T. Yates.

The proposed plan would direct development to designated growth areas, set goals for preserving 100,000 acres of farmland and change the land use on five properties totaling 223 acres to foster economic development.

The plan was drafted over an 18-month period by four teams of about 35 people each that spent more than 2,100 hours on the document.

Mann, whose father was a county commissioner from 1974 to 1982, favors an open selection process for county board and commission members.

He criticized the process by which Karl V. Reichlin was elected chairman of the three-member Board of Zoning Appeals, a quasi-judicial board that hears cases involving developer requests for special projects. There was no public advertisement of the position. The county commissioners simply voted to promote Reichlin, the board's senior member.

Reichlin's predecessor, James L. Schumacher, was ousted during a closed session last month, when the county commissioners voted 2-1 to demote him to an alternate position.

"I believe vacancies should be advertised, so that any citizen who is interested in a position can apply," Mann said.

Mann said he would push for a citizens' bill of rights to make clear the right of citizens to be heard at public hearings, to access county records and to receive a timely response to inquiries.

"Government by the people means just that," Mann said. "It's not meant to be a spectator sport."

Roger Larry Mann

Age: 49

Residence: Westminster

Family: Single

Occupation: Owner/manager of several residential duplexes in Westminster

Education: Westminster High School; bachelor of science degree in social science, Towson State University; completed several graduate-level planning and zoning courses, Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Political background: None

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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