Board nominees tackle issues at political forum Topics addressed by 7 candidates range from crime to growth

October 23, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The seven candidates for the Carroll County Board of Commissioners fielded questions for more than an hour last night on topics ranging from crime to industrial growth.

More than 70 people packed a meeting room at the Senior Activity Center in Westminster to hear the candidates' opening remarks and ask questions. The format prevented the candidates from giving rehearsed answers.

A question about the growth in crime elicited several proposed solutions.

"We're very fortunate that we don't have the kind of problems that other counties have," said Republican Donald I. Dell, the only incumbent in the race.

"Of course, that doesn't mean we're going to relax. We have funded special investigators to address the drug problem, and crisis counselors to help victims of crime," he said.

Union Bridge Mayor Perry L. Jones, a Democrat, said he favored a curfew law that would enable police to "force kids off the street."

"A lot of the juvenile crimes occur at nighttime, when the children should be at home under the watchful eye of their parents," he said. "We talk a lot about the drug problem in Carroll County. I think we should pass a law that would get children off the streets when a lot of this activity is occurring."

Last night's forum was sponsored by the Finksburg Planning Area Council.

It was the group's second political forum. The first, also an event for commissioner candidates, was held before the primary in September and had a similar format.

David O'Callaghan, president of the council, said the format favored by the citizens group was adopted to force the candidates to address issues of concern to Finksburg residents.

"We wanted to be sure they addressed issues of particular concern to us -- such as the sign ordinance, county growth and the Liberty watershed agreement," O'Callaghan said.

A question about the wisdom of the watershed agreement, which gave Baltimore ownership of the Liberty Reservoir in 1984, generated several suggestions for possible revisions.

"We need to take a close look at the agreement and perhaps make changes to it," said Republican Robin Bartlett Frazier. "We have some industrial zoned properties in this area that need water and sewer service. It doesn't make sense to run those services from Westminster."

Said Republican Julia Walsh Gouge: "Water is one of the biggest concerns we in Carroll County have. We need to be aware that once water is contaminated, it costs millions of dollars to clean it up -- if it can be cleaned up at all. We need to look at this agreement and make sure the watershed is protected."

The candidates also fielded questions on improving recreational facilities, encouraging industrial growth and revising the county's sign ordinance.

Finksburg has about 20 percent of the billboards in Carroll County.

All agreed that recreational facilities are needed.

Gouge suggested that the county expand library services and increase the number of senior activity centers.

Jones said he would support additional ball fields because there aren't enough facilities to accommodate all of the children who want to play.

Democrat Maxine Carole Wooleyhand went a step further and suggested that developers be required to preserve open space and build ball fields and other recreational facilities.

"They have a moral obligation to leave open space and make the area a better place," Wooleyhand said.

All the candidates suggested stricter controls on billboards and other highway signs.

However, Frazier was the only candidate to advocate "a balance between the need that businesses have for signs and what it is we need to keep Carroll County attractive."

The issue of industrial growth elicited varied responses.

"We need to stop turning good industrial land into commercial shopping centers," said independent Carolyn L. Fairbank. "We need to attract good, clean, high-tech industries to Carroll County so that our work force doesn't have to leave the county every day."

Democrat Roger Larry Mann suggested that the county work aggressively to bring new businesses to Carroll. "It's the only way we're going to be able to stabilize, or even lower our property taxes," Mann said.

Business provides slightly less than 12 percent of the county tax base -- the lowest business-to-residential ratio in the region.

Pub Date: 10/23/98

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