Carroll's road less traveled Republican sweep: County affirms conservatism at polls, against statewide trend.

November 06, 1998

BUCKING a statewide trend of Democratic victories, Carroll County remained staunchly Republican in Tuesday's election. No Democrat gained office; none came close to winning.

The county's conservative bedrock laid the foundation for Republicans, none of whom could be called the slightest bit liberal.

The difference was not campaign money or voter turnout, two common excuses of losers. The county's majority Republican Party turned out in good numbers, but so did Democrats. Overall, the county voter turnout was 61 percent, down from 67 percent in 1994.

Now Carroll citizens must deal with the consequences of the election results until 2002.

Foremost is a six-member Republican legislative delegation to Annapolis, where Democrats solidly control both the General Assembly and the State House. Will Carroll's legislators merely cry out in the wilderness, or will they attempt to build bipartisan bridges with the majority party?

This delegation must recognize the distinction between constructive, reasoned criticism and futile, knee-jerk ideological opposition.

Unlike four years ago, when controlling growth was the battle cry of the victors, Tuesday's three winners for commissioner favor expanded private property rights. That will play a major role in the adoption of the proposed land-use master plan and the future of the county law limiting housing growth over five years.

The new commissioners are experienced: Julia Walsh Gouge and Donald I. Dell enter their third terms, while Robin Bartlett Frazier is a veteran of the planning commission. Mr. Dell and Ms. Frazier have close political ties: She was his campaign treasurer in 1994; he calls her a "soul mate." That could neutralize the voice of Ms. Gouge, the top vote-getter, if she is not politically adept. Good communication between all the commissioners is essential.

Pub Date: 11/06/98

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