Lorsung won't back fellow Democrat

Ulman is party nominee for her seat on council

Howard County

October 03, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Retiring County Councilwoman Mary C. Lorsung is refusing to endorse the fellow Democrat nominated to replace her, opting instead to stay out of the general election contest for her west Columbia seat, she said this week .

If a Republican wins that seat Nov. 5, the GOP probably will gain control of the five-member council, but Lorsung, a Democrat, is still angry with County Executive James N. Robey for abandoning his neutrality and backing Kenneth S. Ulman in the Democratic primary.

Asked this week whether her position on Ulman could be perceived as disloyalty to the Democratic Party, Lorsung said, "I would ask that question of Jim Robey."

Lorsung, a two-term councilwoman with deep roots in the planned town, strongly backed fellow Democrat Mary Kay Sigaty.

Sigaty lost by 36 votes to Ulman, a 28-year old lawyer and Columbia native. The Republican candidate is Joan Lancos, 49, a longtime resident who has a record of community involvement similar to Sigaty's.

Lorsung is worried about more than politics.

"I have my concerns that I hope people in my district are paying attention to," Lorsung said, mentioning the need for careful scrutiny of conditions in older communities in particular. Lorsung founded a revitalization committee that meets quarterly, drawing residents together with senior county and business officials to address problems as Columbia ages.

Ulman criticized the group at a Wilde Lake forum Sept. 5, saying, "You don't need a committee to fix a broken streetlight" or a pothole.

Lorsung said Tuesday, referring to that comment, "It has nothing to do with getting a pothole or a streetlight fixed." Her focus, she said, goes beyond minor neighborhood maintenance and includes issues such as regional transit needs and affordable housing.

Lancos, a former Planning Board chairwoman and longtime community and school activist, is trying to woo Sigaty's Democratic supporters to her cause.

Ulman is working to strengthen his support in the district, which has twice as many registered Democrats as registered Republicans. About 18 percent of district's voters are registered at independents.

"I've been reaching out to a number of Democrats who did not support me in the primary. The vast majority are supporting me," Ulman said.

"Republicans are targeting this seat. My message is, we've made a lot of progress. Let's continue the progress rather than taking a step backward. We are getting into some very difficult budgetary times, and you want people with compassionate social values to make those decisions."

He pointed to support from Del. Elizabeth Bobo, an influential west Columbia Democrat and a former Howard County executive.

"I'm a registered Democrat, and I would like to see a majority of Democrats [on the council]," Bobo said.

Lancos said voters should decide whom to support based on the candidates' qualifications, not their party affiliations.

"I consider myself an independent thinker. My 10-year record on the Planning Board proves that. I do what's best for the community. Conceivably, this could be a council with two Democrats, two Republicans and Joan," she said. "At the local level, it's not about party."

At a Lancos birthday party and fund-raiser Friday night in Hawthorne, several well-known Democrats proclaimed their support for Lancos, including Vivian "Millie" Bailey and Rosemary Mortimer, a former county PTA president who praised Lancos as being "in the tradition of [the late councilwoman] Ruth Keeton and Mary Lorsung."

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