Owen Brown hopefuls trade barbs

Allegations made of unfair campaigning

April 17, 2002|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

In a heated debate last night, the two candidates for the Village of Owen Brown's seat on the Columbia Council attacked each other's records and traded charges of unfair campaign practices.

Challenger Barry Blyveis opened the village's candidates forum by accusing the community newsletter The OBserver of bias in favor of his opponent, incumbent Pearl Atkinson-Stewart, by selling ad space to her campaign but not informing him of the opportunity.

"I think it's a dastardly thing to do," Blyveis, a retired Justice Department attorney, told the crowd of nearly 20 people at the village's community center.

But Atkinson-Stewart responded that Blyveis, a Columbia resident for 29 years, should have known about advertising in the newsletter. It would have been inappropriate for the village manger to tell Blyveis his opponent had bought an ad and ask whether he wanted to do the same, she said.

Elections for the village will be held Friday and Saturday. Only Harper's Choice, Hickory Ridge and Owen Brown are having contested council elections.

Blyveis, 62, is calling for extensive changes to the council, which also serves as the Columbia Association's 10-member board of directors. He wants to add an 11th member elected at-large who would chair the council but have more power than the position now entails.

"There's no voice for Columbia, so Columbia doesn't get what it should from the state or county," he said.

However, Atkinson-Stewart said the council has working relationships with the county government and that Columbia Association President Maggie J. Brown has been "very effective" in her role.

"We have a very effective voice at the village level and at the CA level," said Atkinson-Stewart, who has lived in Columbia for 28 years.

Each candidate accused the other of misrepresenting their record. Atkinson-Stewart said Blyveis wanted to cut the association's before- and after-school programs for children - which Blyveis denied.

And Blyveis attacked Atkinson-Stewart, claiming she supported an effort to annex a 665-acre Rouse Co. development in North Laurel, which he said would have required CA to borrow $3 million.

But Atkinson-Stewart said while she voted to pursue negotiations on the deal, she never voted to accept a proposal. The issue died in November 2000.

Seeking her third term on the council, Atkinson-Stewart, 64, ranks among her accompaniments: enhancements to Lake Elkhorn, youth and senior programs and Snowden Ridge's tot lot, tennis courts and pathways.

Atkinson-Stewart served on her village board for 10 years and is retired from a job in facilities management at Howard Community College.

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