Democrat not conceding district to Merdon

First-time candidate plans to run against Republican incumbent

October 18, 2001|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

In drawing new Howard County Council district lines for next year's election, the county's political activists seemed to concede two districts of the five to Republican incumbents Allan H. Kittleman and Christopher J. Merdon.

But Democrat Lynne Bergling, president of the St. John's Community Association, isn't conceding anything. She plans to run for County Council in Merdon's Ellicott City-Elkridge district.

Bergling, 41, has lived in Howard County since 1985. She said she is running mainly because she wants to be more involved locally, though she also faults Merdon's performance.

"I just think I could do a very good job," she said, noting her increasing interest after years of involvement with county schools while raising three girls, and later with local zoning issues in her community.

"I do enjoy being a citizens advocate," she said. She has gained knowledge of the county's zoning system through involvement, such as her fight to remove a shopping center parking lot built on residentially zoned land on U.S. 40, she said.

A political novice, Bergling said she has not been active in Democratic Party circles. Though her primary focus is a growing interest in public affairs, "if Guy Guzzone were my councilman, I wouldn't run," she said.

Guzzone, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat, is council chairman this year.

Bergling felt, for instance, that Guzzone took the time and the heat from opponents of the Maple Lawn mixed-use development in Fulton to evaluate the issue and make an honest, if controversial, decision.

Merdon and Kittleman, she said, took a more absolute and popular stance against the proposed size of Maple Lawn. "You just can't take an across-the-board stand," she said.

She has opposed that kind of "fight everything" attitude, she said, even in her Ellicott City community of St. John's, which is south of U.S. 40 and west of U.S. 29.

Instead of taking an absolute position, she would rather "pick up the phone" to try to resolve community issues. When a church wanted to expand, she said the community association worked to resolve issues of parking and traffic, and eventually supported the church rather than opposing the project.

Louis M. Pope, county Republican Party chairman, said Merdon "has been a very popular councilman" and his district is "heavily Republican. He'll be around for a long time. We never looked at that as a vulnerable seat."

Merdon was not available for comment, but he issued a statement. "I welcome Lynne to the race. I have enjoyed working with her and the St. John's Community Association over the past three years," he said.

Wendy Fiedler, county Democratic Party chairman, said a Democrat could win in District 1 if people are not satisfied with Merdon's performance.

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