Council opts not to replace Klocko

Seat to remain empty as tribute to colleague

October 09, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County Council members said yesterday they will not appoint someone to serve out the term of council member John J. Klocko III, who was killed in a two-car accident in Utah on Saturday, but will leave his seat vacant as a tribute to his memory.

"I just don't see a rational reason to do it," Council Chairman Bill D. Burlison said yesterday. "We are mourning his loss. ... And so by leaving the seat vacant this may be one more way to honor the memory of Mr. Klocko."

Council members said they have two meetings -- and a few remaining bills to discuss -- before the Nov. 5 election when voters will elect a new council member for the District 7 seat. Klocko, a two-term council member, was blocked from seeking re-election by term limits.

Republican Edward R. Reilly of Crofton and Democrat Bill Rinehart of Harwood are vying for the seat, which represents a large section of the county from Crofton to the Calvert County line.

County officials were shocked Monday to learn of Klocko's death. Klocko, 45, had turned down suggestions that he run for county executive or a state office so he could spend more time with his wife, Karen, a Crofton dentist, and three teen-age daughters.

He was also excited about being able to spend time outdoors on his Santa Cruz brand mountain bike.

Klocko's cycling hobby is what took him to Utah. He was on his way to a mountain biking camp in Moab, Utah, when his rented van was struck by a sport utility vehicle, the driver of which had fallen asleep at the wheel, police said. Klocko was killed instantly, police said.

Councilman Daniel E. Klosterman Jr., a Democrat from Millersville, said yesterday that the council had planned a goodbye party for Klocko to mark the end of his eight years in office. The event was to be held immediately after the council's Oct. 21 meeting, the last before the Nov. 5 election.

"Everyone liked John," Klosterman said.

Klosterman said that he, too, opposes filling Klocko's seat. He said there isn't enough time to consider possible replacements.

"I don't think we are going to do anything with it," Klosterman said. "We have two meetings left. ... And there is nothing controversial left on our agenda. I don't think it would make a big difference."

County Attorney Linda M. Schuett said she knew of no legal reason why the seat couldn't remain empty until the election.

Council officials also pointed out that a late-term appointment could give Republicans an unfair advantage in the District 7 council race. Klocko was a Republican, and any appointee would have to be a registered voter from the same party. He had endorsed Reilly.

"Everyone feels for John's family, and that's where the attention should be, not on politics," said William F. Chaney, a Democrat who is active in District 7 politics.

Council members feel the same way. Klosterman said that he and two other members -- Cathleen M. Vitale, a Republican from Severna Park, and Barbara D. Samorajczyk, a Democrat from Annapolis -- have suggested that the new Crofton library be named for Klocko, who'd pushed for the project.

"John worked hard to make that library a reality," Klosterman said. "It would be a nice gesture to remember him in that way."

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