Consultant, 38, is selected as new delegate

Lisbon Republican wins central committee vote

Miller is to succeed Flanagan

New lawmaker to arrive facing crucial issues

March 05, 2003|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Warren E. Miller will arrive in Annapolis this week as Howard County's newest House of Delegates member on the eve of crucial votes on whether gambling, new taxes or deep budget cuts should be used to address a looming $1.2 billion shortfall.

The 38-year-old conservative Republican, a management consultant, was chosen to succeed Howard Del. Robert L. Flanagan, who resigned to be Maryland's transportation secretary.

Miller, who lives near Lisbon with his wife and two young children, was selected Monday night by secret ballot among the nine Howard County Republican State Central Committee members - of which he is one. He is expected to be sworn in by week's end.

"I've got to balance what I feel the needs of Howard County to be with supporting [Gov. Robert L.] Ehrlich [Jr.]," he said. "I don't go in with the luxury of being someone who is elected."

He added that his goal is "ultimately to make Bob Ehrlich a successful governor."

Miller was successful in winning a four-year free ride into political office against seemingly major odds. Every Howard County Republican elected official except Del. Gail H. Bates backed his chief rival, former party Chairwoman Carol Arscott, one of five other contenders who included Charles C. Feaga, a former three-term county councilman.

But, as Republican Party Chairman Louis M. Pope said, "One of the things Warren had as an advantage was he did not seem to have done anything over the last several election cycles that anyone could find fault with. There were no issues with Warren."

In interviews conducted by the central committee, members questioned Arscott and Feaga on actions as far back as 1996 that some considered hurtful to other Republicans.

"People have long memories," Miller said.

To prevent new grudges, Pope said, the vote was taken by secret ballot with two committee members doing the counting. He said he didn't know what the margin of victory was and doesn't want to know.

"We thought it was better to do it that way," he said.

Arscott said she congratulates Miller, and Miller said County Council Republicans Christopher J. Merdon and Allan H. Kittleman - both Arscott backers - called to wish him well.

As a new delegate, Miller said, he would rely on advice from Bates, a fellow Republican who was appointed to her seat last year and won election to a four-year term in November.

"My advice to him is probably what I tried to do last year and that is listen a lot," Bates said, adding that the Republican Caucus also will help Miller catch up.

"Warren's a quick study. He's real smart," Bates said, adding that she hopes party members will put away their personal grudges.

"If we don't work together as a unified party, we won't be effective at all," she said.

In his central committee interview, Miller showed a bit of his philosophy in responding to a question about taxes: "I hate taxes. I hate paying taxes. I hate what they're used for."

But the 1994 campaign manager for Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland's most conservative Republican, said he is not as ferocious as his comments might sound.

Using tax revenues to pay for schools, public safety and other services is good, he said, "but I think the issue is government has to be smarter with how they spend taxpayers' money." Raising taxes and spending isn't the answer, he said.

"Not many in Howard County would disagree that we in Howard pay a lot of money for schools and roads, and I don't know that we see a lot of return on our investment," he said. "How much of our tax dollars actually make it into the classroom?"

He added, "I have no problems paying teachers more, but I have problems with what those people" in school administration do.

Miller said he is not "against fire and police training facilities," but questioned whether new ones should be built if the state has training centers that the county can use.

County Executive James N. Robey and the county's fire and police chiefs want to build a public safety training center in West Friendship because they say it takes too much time to beg and borrow training time at facilities outside the county.

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