Democrats appeared to take control of the Anne Arundel County Council, as five of the seven Republicans were losing their races, according to early election returns last night.
Going into yesterday's voting, Republicans had been clinging to a 4-3 majority, but they seemed to be losing that with 140 of 170 precincts reporting.
Probably the biggest Republican upset appeared to come in District 4, where Republican incumbent Bert L. Rice, the council chairman, was trailing Bill D. Burlison, the longtime U.S. representative from Missouri who moved to Maryland after he was voted out of office in 1980 in an ugly political scandal.
Rice, who had been chairman, seemed secure in his slot on the council.
The district includes Odenton, Severn and parts of Crownsville and Millersville.
A second major Republican defeat appeared to come in District 6, which lies between the Severn and South rivers east of Epping Forest and South Haven. Democrat Barbara Samorajczyk was leading incumbent Republican William C. Mulford II in a race that had been painted as a showdown between two highly successful and aggressive attorneys.
Mulford, a former assistant state's attorney who has prosecuted some of the county's most famous criminal cases, had long been one of the council's most vocal conservatives. Throughout the campaign, Samorajczyk, an environmental activist who until recently has represented developers, described Mulford as a "rubber stamp" for the Republican county ex- ecutive John G. Gary, who was also defeated yesterday.
In District 2, Democrat Daniel E. Klosterman Jr., an accountant from Millersville, apparently defeated Republican Robert G. Pepersack Sr., the former county sheriff who had been criticized for over-spending his budget and discriminating against a female deputy. The district includes Glen Burnie and parts of Millersville.
In conceding, Pepersack said: "It's the will of the people. They get what they elect. My wife says now I got to get a regular job and do some honest work."
Republican Carl G. "Dutch" Holland, who lost a re-election bid four years ago, was losing to A. Shirley Murphy, a Democratic party activist in District 3, which includes much of Pasadena.
And in District 1, which includes Linthicum and Ferndale, Democrat Pamela Graboski Beidle was ahead of Republican Gerald P. Starr in a race to replace retiring Councilman George F. Bachman Jr.
The only districts where Republicans appeared to be leading were Districts 5 and 7.
In District 5, which includes Severna Park and Arnold, Republican Cliff Roop held a commanding lead over Democrat Mary Marsh. The two candidates were running to fill the seat once occupied by Diane Evans, who switched from the Republican to Democratic Party to run for county executive and lost in the primary.
In District 7, which lies mostly in the rural south county, incumbent Republican John J. Klocko III -- a key player when it comes to growth and development issues on the council -- appeared to defeat first-time candidate Tim Shearer.
Shearer had tried to make the race a referendum on Klocko's positions on development, once calling Klocko "a rubber stamp for big developers."