Gouge to seek 4th term on board

Commissioner is first to announce run for re-election

October 07, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Julia Walsh Gouge, president of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, confirmed Friday that she intends to seek re-election to the three-member panel next year.

The moderate Republican and Hampstead resident is the first incumbent to declare her intention to run again for the four-year term that would begin in December next year.

According to the Carroll and state election boards, no other prospective candidates have filed to run in 2002. Commissioners Robin Bartlett Frazier, who is serving her first term, and Donald I. Dell, who is in his third term, could not be reached for comment

Gouge, 61, the first woman to serve as a Carroll County commissioner, began her political career as a Hampstead councilwoman and later was elected mayor. She said she had spoken to her family at length about running for countywide office again.

"My whole family is behind me, and that makes a big difference when you are out there campaigning," she said. "That is support you have to have."

If she is successful next year, it will be her fourth term as a Carroll commissioner. She served on two successive boards from 1986 to 1994 and won the largest number of votes in 1998. She announced her decision to several friends last week.

"A lot of people have asked me and I have decided to run again," she said. "I have told the people who worked with me last time to get ready to go back to work, and I am hoping to pull a lot of other people into my campaign."

Given the increase in Carroll's size, she said she knows she faces a time-consuming campaign. Carroll's population grew about 22 percent over the past decade - from 123,372 in 1990 to 150,897 in last year, according to the U.S. Census. It is the fifth-fastest-growing county in the state.

Talking and meeting with people is Gouge's strong suit, supporters say.

"Julia is all about listening to people," said Ross Dangel of Eldersburg.

Gouge may find her strongest support in South Carroll, the county's most populous area, where voters consider her a champion for their concerns. When she renewed her schedule of informal community meetings last year, more than 100 residents joined her at the public library in Eldersburg.

Gouge has consistently voted against a $14 million water treatment plant at Piney Run Lake, a project many South Carroll residents strongly oppose. She also has emerged as an advocate for controlled growth.

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