17 aim to win seats on council

Large number of candidates is unusual

7 spots open April 21


March 28, 2001|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,SUN STAFF

In a town where the usual election drama turns on whether enough voters show up for a valid contest, an unusually large number of candidates -- 17 -- are running for seven Columbia Council seats next month.

A record five candidates are vying for the Wilde Lake council seat. Three people are running for the Oakland Mills slot, and another three are competing in Long Reach.

There are two candidates each in Hickory Ridge and Kings Contrivance. Two of the races, in Dorsey's Search and River Hill, are uncontested.

"This is going to be the first time in years that the races are going to be a kind of a hold your breath and [see] who's going to get it," said Jean Moon, a longtime resident who organized a group, Vote 01, that encouraged several of the candidates to run.

A series of controversies has drawn attention to the 10-member council and prompted several of the challengers to run. Meanwhile, four of the seven council members up for re-election decided not to run.

Among the candidates are two people who grew up in the 34-year-old town. Also running is the Columbia Association's former general counsel.

Elections will be held April 21. Polls also will be open April 20 in Kings Contrivance. A candidates' forum, organized by Vote 01, is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 4 at The Other Barn in the Oakland Mills village center.

Wilde Lake

Five candidates are vying for a seat being vacated by Vincent Marando.

Randy Clay, 29, is a student pursuing a master's degree in urban studies and planning at the University of Maryland, College Park. Clay, who grew up in Wilde Lake, also works as a laborer for the Columbia Association's division of open space management.

Hank Eigles, 64, has lived in Columbia since 1968. Retired from the federal Health Care Finance Administration, where he worked as a lawyer, he has a private law practice.

Joshua Feldmesser, 25, is the other Wilde Lake native in the race. A training director for an environmental group called Environmental Citizenship, Feldmesser is chairman of his village board. His father, Howard Feldmesser, served on the village board in the 1990s.

Mary Kay Sigaty, 51, is a jewelry designer who has lived in Columbia since 1972. With two children at Wilde Lake High School, she is a member of the school's improvement team, as well as a similar group at Wilde Lake Middle.

Helen Sutusky, 49, is coordinator of the County's Office of Substance Abuse Impact Services. She has lived in Columbia since 1975 and served on the village board in Harper's Choice before moving to Wilde Lake two years ago.

Long Reach

Three candidates are competing for the seat being vacated by Cecilia Januszkiewicz.

Shelby A. Tucker King, 43, is former general counsel at the Columbia Association. She was ousted in March 2000 during a period of turmoil at the organization. She works for the Baltimore law firm of Brown, Diffenderffer and Kearney. Chairwoman of the Columbia Housing Corporation's board, she has lived in Columbia since 1987.

Linda Odum, 59, has lived in Columbia since 1971. A Realtor with RE/MAX Columbia, she has served on the board of the Columbia Foundation and was president of Family and Children's Services, a nonprofit community mental health counseling center in Wilde Lake.

Deborah Tolson, a longtime community activist lost to Januszkiewicz by 13 votes in that village's last election, in April 1999. Tolson filed a lawsuit, later dismissed in Howard Circuit Court, alleging voting irregularities.

Oakland Mills

Two candidates are challenging the incumbent.

Patti Boyd, 41, a legal specialist with the Baltimore firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. She has lived in Oakland Mills for about five years. She served as member of the public board that governs Needham, Mass., while she lived in the Boston suburb several years ago.

Earl Jones, 66, served one year on the council before losing by seven votes last year to the incumbent, Barbara Russell. He served on the village board for two years. A retired General Services Administration official, Jones has lived in Oakland Mills for 31 years.

Barbara Russell, 60, the incumbent, has lived in Columbia since 1967. She is a senior administrative analyst for the Howard County Council.

Hickory Ridge

One person is challenging the incumbent.

Robert E. O'Brien, 67, is vice president of the Columbia chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. He worked for several government agencies before retirement, including the State Department. He has lived in Columbia for 22 years.

Miles Coffman, 51, the incumbent, project manager with Bank of America, served on his village board on and off for about 10 years before joining the council last year. He has lived in Columbia for 16 years.

Kings Contrivance

The incumbent faces one challenger.

Steven Pine, 48, has lived in Columbia for six years. Retired from the Air Force, he works as a database administrator for the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Kirk Halpin, 30, the incumbent, is a corporate and real estate lawyer for Rosenberg, Proutt, Funk & Greenberg. He moved to Columbia in the mid-1990s and was elected to the village board in 1997.

River Hill

Ed Stern, 45, is running unopposed to succeed Adam Rich, who is not seeking re-election. Stern has lived in the town for 3 1/2 years and has run a business there for eight. He owns The Stern Agency and Redhead Interactive, two advertising companies that employ 14 people. He is president of the board at Grassroots, a crisis intervention center.

Dorsey's Search

Tom O'Connor, 49, also is running unopposed to succeed Robert Conors, who is not seeking re-election. A Columbia resident since 1987, O'Connor owns a company that sells electronic production equipment. He has chaired the village board for the past year and has served on it for two.

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