Odum seeks re-election despite plans to move

April 11, 2003|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

To Linda Odum, representative democracy isn't about where you live.

Odum, 61, is running for re-election to the Long Reach village seat on the Columbia Council, but she is planning to move to Wilde Lake village before her two-year term would end.

Her opponent is questioning her likely distance from her constituents, but Odum argues she is qualified to represent Long Reach, regardless of where she lives.

Odum, the council vice chairwoman, pointed out that she has lived in Columbia for 32 years - 13 of those in Long Reach.

"I don't see how turning off my bedside table light in another village is going to erase all the experience and the concerns I have in Long Reach," she said.

Odum is running against David Hlass to represent Long Reach, the only contested seat on the council in the April 26 elections.

Hlass views the situation a little differently. Electing a council representative who does not live in the village harms the village's credibility, he said.

"You're not using the pools, the trails or pathways, the village center or interacting with the people," said Hlass, who has lived in Columbia for 15 years and in Long Reach for 13 years. "How can you represent them?"

Long Reach council representatives do not have to be village residents, but they do have to own property or be a lease-holder in the village, said Sarah Uphouse, Long Reach's village manager.

Odum, who is a real-estate agent, said she will continue to own two properties in Long Reach - the house she lives in and another property.

Odum pointed out that most of the issues that come before the 10-member council, which also acts as the Columbia Association's board of directors, deal with Columbia-wide concerns.

However, if Odum were elected and moved to Wilde Lake, the community would essentially have "two CA representatives in that particular village," Hlass said. "You're just a figurehead of the village you're supposed to be representing."

Odum said she didn't run for the council from Wilde Lake because, "I just don't choose to, I choose to run for Long Reach."

Joshua Feldmark is the Wilde Lake representative on the council and is running for re-election uncontested. Other incumbents who are running unopposed are: Miles Coffman of Hickory Ridge; Tom O'Connor of Dorsey's Search; and Barbara Russell of Oakland Mills.

Phil Marcus of Kings Contrivance and Cabell Greenwood of River Hill also are unopposed and will serve their first terms on the council, if elected. The remaining three council members - Wolfger Schneider of Harper's Choice, Pearl Atkinson-Stewart of Owen Brown and Donna L. Rice of Town Center - are in the middle of their two-year terms.

If elected, Odum said, she is interested in examining the feasibility of more tennis facilities in Columbia and helping be an advocate for Long Reach open-space projects, particularly to accelerate the dredging of Jackson Pond.

The dredging is scheduled for 2010, and she wants to move it up to at least 2005, Odum said.

The pond "is filling rapidly, more rapidly than I think is desirable," she said.

Hlass, 48, a retired military officer and pilot, said that if he were elected he wants to focus on ensuring the association works in a cost-effective manner, and residents receive more benefit from the property lien they pay the association - 73 cents per $100 of valuation on 50 percent of the fair market value.

"I'm here to express your concerns, reach out to you folks, hear what you have to say and get back to you," Hlass recently told residents at the village's candidates forum.

The Long Reach elections will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 26 at Stonehouse, 8775 Cloudleap Court. One vote is allowed per owner or tenant. Information: 410-730-8113.

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