Court officials likely to keep jobs Weathersbee, Johnson Duckworth on way to retaining positions

Election 1998

November 04, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Three incumbents were on their way to beating back little-known challengers for their Anne Arundel County Circuit Court-related posts, according to early election returns last night.

Democrats Frank R. Weathersbee, seeking a third term as state's attorney, George F. Johnson IV, going for a second term as county sheriff, and Republican Robert P. Duckworth, running for a second term as clerk of the Circuit Court, were poised to retain their jobs, with 140 of the county's 170 precincts reporting.

A newcomer to county politics, former Prince George's County Assistant State's Attorney Richard R. Trunnell, 37, of Crofton, had hoped that his criticism of Weathersbee, 54, of Crownsville, and a strong performance in the conservative county by GOP gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey would propel him into office.

But Weathersbee was ahead.

A retired police officer and son of a Democratic politician, Johnson, 45, of Pasadena, was a relentless campaigner, going door-to-door Monday night to ask voters to keep him as sheriff. "I am just so pleased they are giving me four more years to represent them, if that really is the case," he said.

Even Republicans recently praised Johnson for overhauling the office and eliminating its budget deficit. Early returns gave Johnson a hefty lead.

His opponent, a former Anne Arundel County deputy sheriff and now a deputy in Baltimore, barely campaigned. Mark Gillen, 36, of Carvel Beach, raised less than $1,000.

Duckworth, 58, of Crofton, had almost a 2-to-1 edge. Duckworth said his achievements in office included computerization, the reliable handling of hundreds of real estate and legal documents and capable money management.

Four years ago, he beat Democrat Janet Owens, who appeared to be defeating incumbent County Executive John G. Gary.

Democrat Karl H. Gordon, 37, of Churchton, an Annapolis lawyer and a political newcomer, argued that the clerk's office needed to introduce technology rapidly and move paperwork faster.

Three circuit judges were unopposed. They are Michael E. Loney of Arnold, Joseph P. Manck of Annapolis and Ronald A. Silkworth Severna Park. Republican George M. Nutwell Jr. of Annapolis, also unopposed, will begin his sixth term as register of wills, handling administrative matters relating to wills and estates.

Three Democrats and three Republicans were vying for the three part-time Orphans' Court judgeships. They were incumbents Elaine M. Furth of Annapolis and Gail J. Schaffer of Crofton, and Nancy Phelps of Linthicum, all Republicans; and Judith L. Duckett of Annapolis, a former judge who lost her seat in the 1994 Republican sweep, Jayne Asher Astle of Annapolis and Callie Matthews of Annapolis, all Democrats. Early returns showed Duckett, Schaffer and Phelps leading.

Pub Date: 11/04/98

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