Neil Ridgely, former Hampstead town manager and a founding member of the Finksburg Area Planning Council, will run for county commissioner this year. It will be his second attempt at winning a seat on the three-member board.
"I think growth is going to be the key issue of the campaign because it affects so many other issues, such as roads and schools," said Ridgely, who ran unsuccessfully for commissioner in 1994. "The growth that we're going to have needs to be concentrated in the towns, not around them."
A former Republican, Ridgely, 52, is running as a Democrat. He joined the party in 1994, saying he was "not comfortable being in the same party as Commissioner [Donald I.] Dell."
In recent years, Ridgely has criticized Dell and his colleagues on the board - Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Robin Bartlett Frazier - for making political decisions behind closed doors. If elected, Ridgely said, he will hold public meetings and solicit citizen input before making decisions about the future.
"I believe in open government and citizen empowerment," said Ridgely, who works for a nonprofit organization that seeks to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
A resident of Carroll County since 1976, Ridgely lives in Finksburg with his wife, Debbie, a former chairwoman of the county's Planning and Zoning Commission.
Of the three incumbent commissioners, only Gouge has announced her intention to seek re-election. George W. Murphy III, a Green Party candidate, and Republican Dean L. Minnich, a veteran columnist at the Carroll County Times, are also candidates in what many expect will become a crowded field by the March filing deadline.