County register of wills hits the campaign trail unopposed

Incumbent uses election to inform residents of job

Anne Arundel

October 25, 2002|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Ask Anne Arundel County Register of Wills George M. Nutwell Jr. why his campaign literature, a black-and-white card, looks conspicuously like the one he used in 1994 and 1998, he smiles and replies: "Worked last time."

Just like last time, when he captured the most votes of a candidate in a local county election, the Republican is unopposed. He is seeking a fifth term in a $75,000-a-year post that centers on managing the filing and probating of wills.

And like last time, Democrats found no one in their ranks eager to oppose Nutwell.

Kathy Shatt, chairwoman of the county's Democratic Central Committee, explained that the job has no obvious glory, barely any visibility and is not a steppingstone to bigger posts; a campaign would be an uphill battle against a popular incumbent and would require running countywide. On top of that, Democrats aren't complaining about Nutwell's office operation. That suits Nutwell just fine.

"I think we have such a well-run office with such an excellent staff and good service," said Nutwell, 66, a former accountant for the comptroller's office and Department of Natural Resources. "Most of my life I have worked in a capacity where I have been able to be of service to the public. This job has been the most rewarding in that respect."

Nutwell regularly attends candidates' forums, where he typically explains what his office does, thanks the audience for electing him and asks to be returned to office. He frequently speaks at senior citizen groups, explaining the inevitables of death and taxes.

Add name recognition: The incumbent's father held the same post from 1958 to 1978, Nutwells have been involved in Southern Maryland politics and civics for 300 years, and several roads in southern Anne Arundel County have Nutwell in the name. Political observers have called the family a local political dynasty.

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