Pepersack, Fisher vie for sheriff

Baltimore County office open as incumbent loses

October 11, 2002|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

In the race for Baltimore County sheriff, Norman M. Pepersack Jr. would like to go back to the future.

His opponent, R. Jay Fisher, just wants to step into the future.

Pepersack, a Republican who was sheriff from 1990 to 1998, said he would like to restore discipline to the office while completing plans to allow take-home cars for deputies.

Fisher, a Democrat and a Baltimore City Police Department lieutenant with 30 years' experience in law enforcement, said he wants to be sheriff "to re-establish professionalism and public trust, both of which suffered greatly for the past 12 years" - a period that includes Pepersack's two terms.

The position of sheriff, which pays $70,000 annually, was left up for grabs last month when incumbent Sheriff Anne K. Strasdauskas was defeated in the Democratic primary. She is under investigation by the Maryland Ethics Commission and her spending of public funds was criticized by the county auditor.

Fisher trounced Strasdauskas in the September primary by more than 10,000 votes; Pepersack handily defeated two Republican challengers.

Pepersack, 68, of Perry Hall, said he brings a wealth of experience to the office - 23 years as a Maryland State Police trooper and eight years as the county sheriff.

He said he has been endorsed by Maryland Republicans such as gubernatorial candidate Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., 2nd District congressional hopeful Helen Delich Bentley and several state troopers organizations. While Pepersack has about $12,000 in his campaign fund, he is optimistic that he will receive more funds from Ehrlich.

Pepersack said Fisher "doesn't have the experience that I bring to the job. ... I know how that department functions."

The sheriff's office has an annual budget of about $3.5 million. More than 60 deputies and about 40 security personnel carry out the department's three main missions - security for the courthouse in Towson, execution of warrants and other legal papers, and transportation of prisoners.

Fisher, 53, of Cockeysville, said his campaign treasury holds about $10,000. Endorsements have come from state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, who hired Fisher as a police bodyguard while Schaefer was Baltimore's mayor. He also has the backing of Suzanne Mench, clerk of the court in the county, Fraternal Order of Police groups in the county, the county firefighters association and the AFL-CIO.

"I would like to install new technology, from laptop computers in the deputies' cars to state-of-the-art scanning devices in the courthouse," said Fisher.

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