Showing that they want more moderate leadership, Carroll County Republicans voted out conservative county commissioners Robin Bartlett Frazier and Donald I. Dell last night while nominating a slate of three candidates led by former newspaper editor and columnist Dean L. Minnich.
With all votes counted except for 1,042 absentee ballots, Minnich, three-term incumbent Julia Walsh Gouge and Union Bridge Mayor Perry L. Jones, one of the only black elected officials in Carroll County history, appeared to be on their way to securing their party's nomination. Minnich was leading with 9,446 votes, Gouge was second with 9,031 votes and Jones was third with 6,432 votes.
Frazier was sixth and Dell, a three-term commissioner, was seventh in the 10-candidate Republican field.
Minnich and his supporters were among the 200 Carroll County Republicans gathered last night at Wilhelm Ltd. Catering, a banquet hall in Westminster. They happily watched the returns showing him as the leading vote-getter.
"This is my referendum, that a nonpolitical, ordinary guy can make it," Minnich said. Jones anxiously watched as numbers came in showing that he appeared to be the party's third nominee.
"Voters aren't satisfied with what's happening," said Jones, a former Democrat who switched his party affiliation this year.
Frazier seemed resigned to defeat.
"The Lord has other plans for me," she said. In another county race, incumbents C. Scott Stone and Gary W. Bauer appeared to have survived a nonpartisan school board primary that eliminated only one candidate from a field of seven.
Three Democratic commissioner candidates, Neil Ridgely, Jeannie Nichols and Betty Smith, faced an uncontested primary and will battle the three Republican nominees and independent Vince DePalmer in the Nov. 5 general election.
Republicans outnumber Democrats by about 10,000 among Carroll's 85,000 registered voters, and the party has swept the past three commissioner elections. Voter turnout yesterday was about 32 percent, officials said.
Many county residents, especially those in South Carroll, accused incumbents Dell and Frazier of allowing growth to overwhelm the county's school, road and water capacities.
Dell and Frazier also faced criticism for supporting a construction of a water treatment plant at Piney Run Park, a project they say would meet South Carroll's water needs. Some Republicans said they did not vote for Dell or Frazier yesterday because they doubted the incumbents' ability to manage growth.
"Get rid of them," said Paul Whitehurst, 80, of Westminster. "Sure, they're dyed-in-the wool Carroll Countians. But, they can't break from tradition, even if they know it stinks."
Others cited Piney Run as a major issue.
"It's all about the water," said Bob Jenkins, a 30-year-old Eldersburg resident.
Others said they voted against all three incumbents, because the board has not adequately managed the county's growth.
"We need a change in there, oh definitely," said Clyde Kreitzer.
Sun staff writers Athima Chansanchai, Sheridan Lyons and Jennifer McMenamin contributed to this article.