Crofton board's new head aims to put end to conflict

New president wants to get to know fellow members of civic group

May 24, 2000|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

The day after Richard Trunnell trounced first-time candidate Patrick Dunbar to lead the Crofton Civic Association board of directors, Trunnell said yesterday he is on a mission to bring peace to the board that over the past two years became known for its bitter public conflicts.

Although he has worked with each of the other eight board members who were also elected Monday, he said his objective now is to get to know the members, many of whom endorsed him during the race.

"I want to make sure we get along as a board and see what their mission is," Trunnell said.

The presidential race was the only contested slot in the election of the nine-member board, which oversees both the county's largest special-benefit tax district and civic affairs in Crofton. The new board will be installed next month.

The race was vigorous from the beginning, with candidates showing up at public outings, and going door-to-door in the neighborhoods. Supporters posted signs on their lawns and cars on the lawns of businesses just outside the Crofton triangle.

Dunbar, on the board of directors for the Crofton Athletic Council, was expected to draw votes heavily from residents with children involved in sports. But Trunnell, a two-term civic association board member and former candidate for state's attorney, proved to have a broader appeal.

He won the election with 347 votes to Dunbar's 166. Elections committee officials said they counted slightly more than 500 ballots Monday night, representing a voter turnout of nearly 6 percent.

Trunnell said he wants to present two budgets in the fall to allow the community to choose between a zero-growth spending plan and one that includes resident-supported projects. He also wants to address the need to find money to pay legal fees to enforce neighborhood covenants.

Trunnell said he hopes to meet with Carolyn Kirby, the county budget analyst who oversees Crofton's tax budget, and County Executive Janet S. Owens "to make sure our relationship with the county is as strong as it can be."

The civic association board has had a tumultuous two years as it dealt with changes in the budget process and personality conflicts that caused meetings to erupt into bitter disputes.

Board members grew distrustful of President Gayle Sears, who often publicly criticized board decisions that she opposed and called for county intervention in what some believed were community matters.

The police force and town hall services were criticized during the last round of budget hearings. Some of Sears' supporters had called for hiring a security service and cutting salaries and benefits to Town Hall employees to provide a tax break for residents, and a few board members feared Sears would advocate eliminating those services as well.

Dunbar said yesterday he was disappointed that he didn't win, but will be active in Crofton "in a supportive role."

"I believe they're going to address the immediate concerns which are openness and communication," Dunbar said. "I have the confidence that this board will do an outstanding job of returning the focus away from the board itself and onto the issues."

Also elected Monday were Martin H. Simon, vice president; Laurie Torene, secretary; John H. Hollywood, treasurer; Steven W. Grimaud, District 1; James D. Collett Jr., District 2; Douglas B. Underhill, District 3; Sharon R. Puckett, District 4; and Ronald T. Burns, District 5.

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