Krebs, Holniker to face off in race for state House seat

Brinkley takes wide lead on incumbent Ferguson in District 4 GOP primary

Carroll County

September 11, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

South Carroll voters in a new single-member legislative district appeared to nominate Republican Susan Krebs, president of the school board, yesterday. She would face Democrat Kenneth Holniker, a prominent attorney, in the November election.

In the Frederick-Carroll District 4 Republican Senate primary, Del. David R. Brinkley held a wide lead over incumbent Timothy R. Ferguson, who spent $100,000 in his unsuccessful bid for a third term. With 25 of 39 precincts reporting, Brinkley had a nearly 1,200-vote lead. David P. Gray, a three-term Frederick County commissioner, was a distant third.

Ferguson, a Carroll resident who is considered an ultraconservative, was trailing by more than 400 votes in his home county. Brinkley accused him of being "the weak link in the delegation chain."

"Ferguson skipped a key abortion vote this year and that allows taxpayers to continue to paying for abortions," Brinkley said Monday.

In South Carroll's new District 9B, Krebs led her nearest rival in the six-candidate GOP field, Larry Helminiak, by 209 votes with all 10 precincts reporting.

Elections officials could not say last night how many of the county's 1,042 absentee ballots, which will be counted Sept. 18, are from 9B voters.

Krebs, who gave up a Board of Education seat to run for the General Assembly, campaigned on a pledge to ease the crunch in the area's schools. She should face Holniker, who bested his only rival by more than 600 votes.

"People here are concerned with growth, water and schools," Krebs said. "I'm in tune to what those concerns are, and I fit the mold for this district."

Holniker, 74, who ran on his long years of community service, plans to discuss his strategy in weekly news releases starting Monday.

"I have a lot to say," Holniker said. "I want to show voters the difference."

Redistricting created the 9B, an area with about 20,000 registered voters - 60 percent of them Republican. They reside in Eldersburg, Sykesville, Woodbine, Gamber, Marriottsville and many smaller neighborhoods.

South Carroll, the county's most populous and fast-growing area, welcomed the chance to have a voice in the legislature with a delegate dedicated to issues that dominate the area. South Carroll has tripled in population in the past 25 years and is beset by water shortages, crowded schools and congested roads.

Woodbine resident Mariaelena Chichester, 56, said a seat in the state legislature is long overdue.

"I've been looking forward to it," she said after voting at South Carroll High School. "For too long, we've had too much growth and no representation."

She voted for Helminiak. who campaigned on fiscal responsibility and raised nearly $20,000 in first try for office. He strongly criticized the Glendening administration for creating a soaring deficit and assured voters that he would vigorously oppose any tax increase.

"This district has to send somebody to Annapolis who won't bow to the tremendous amount of pressure there will be to raise taxes," Helminiak said.

Republican Michael R. Guerin, 33 and the youngest candidate, finished third in his first race for office.

Krebs, a 42-year-old mother of three and a longtime community activist well-known in the area, ran on her expertise on education issues with promises to ease the crunch in Carroll's classrooms.

Ted Cusick, 36, said Krebs' record convinced him to vote for her. But, he added that he wished he had had more time to make his decision. The candidates held only one forum and that was five days before the primary.

In her only other try for office four years ago, Krebs won every precinct in the county.

She credited her win to "people power, good workers who are very committed. I didn't want to have to buy an election."

She raised less than $6,000 for this campaign and relied heavily on a group of about 30 volunteers whom she called her "grass-roots organization." While Krebs was consumed with school board issues and contract negotiations, her volunteers went door-to-door touting her candidacy.

"This was a hard-fought race with several very qualified people," Krebs said last night. "I applaud the candidates that ran a clean campaign, and I hope this means that South Carroll gets its place in the county."

Michael D. Zimmer, a Mount Airy attorney who targeted Krebs in the campaign, finished fourth. Robert L. Tabler Jr., an Eldersburg real estate agent, came in fifth. Richard T. Yates, who won a county commissioner seat eight years ago as a champion of moderate growth and then lost the office in 1998, finished last.

Robert M. Wolfing, chairman of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee, which remained neutral until voters chose a candidate, credited the number of candidates to the party's strong presence in South Carroll. Wolfing said the party would rally behind Krebs.

Krebs said she hoped the activism that inspired so many to seek the office would continue.

The only other contested state race - in District 4B - was too close to call. Only two votes separated Democrats Robert Lubitz and Thomas Morrison. The winner will face four-term incumbent Donald B. Elliott.

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