Carroll's GOP central committee ousts member

Burns' removal won't halt effort to fill House vacancy

July 08, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County Republican Central Committee has ousted one of its nine members, but the action will have no impact on the selection of a candidate to fill the delegate seat recently vacated by Carmen Amedori, committee members said yesterday.

"These are two separate issues that are not connected in any way," said Michelle Jefferson, committee chairwoman. "We removed one of our members. This was not a rift, but more of a housekeeping issue."

In a meeting Tuesday, committee members followed the bylaws and demanded the resignation of their colleague, Joe Burns Jr.

"This was done in executive session and we cannot discuss the reasons," Jefferson said.

Burns did not respond to telephone and e-mail requests for interviews yesterday.

Burns' removal will not delay efforts to find a successor for Amedori, a two-term delegate who resigned July 1 to accept a seat on the Maryland Parole Commission. The committee has 30 days from the date of the delegate's resignation to make its recommendation on Amedori's replacement to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

"I am confident that we can pick the right person to submit to the governor in time," said Josie Velazquez, a committee member.

According to state bylaws, the Carroll County Central Committee's vote to expel Burns does not limit its ability to select a replacement for Amedori, said Deborah Martinez, spokeswoman for the state Republican Party.

"The Carroll County Central Committee is fully able to function at this point," she said.

State party officials were made aware of the situation between Burns and the central committee, Martinez said.

"We acted in an observatory role, giving guidance when we were made aware of possibly obstructionist behavior," she said. "All we have done is mediate to make sure the local committee can perform its functions."

The Republican Women's Club of Carroll County also requested Burns' resignation in a letter written by Gerrye Johnston, the club's second vice president. Problems with Burns were the subject of much gossip and were "dividing our club," Johnston said.

"We don't want division or nonsense or negative coverage," she said. "We are trying to stay structured and get more members into the party."

County committee members will meet in closed session today with state and local Republican leaders to set dates for interviews for the delegate's seat and a vote, Jefferson said. She expects to issue a news release with those details tomorrow.

"The discussion and voting process will be in closed session," Jefferson said. "We are not sure yet if the interview process will be open to the public."

Six candidates have expressed interest in the District 5A seat, which includes Westminster, Hampstead and Manchester. They are: Carroll County school board President C. Scott Stone; Westminster Fire Chief Kevin R. Utz; David Roush, former manager of the Lehigh Portland Cement plant in Union Bridge; Tanya Shewell, former president of the Republican Women's Club of Carroll County; James Reter, an accountant and central committee member who has run unsuccessfully for the school board; and Dr. Michael Gloth, a Westminster physician. Jefferson said she expects a few more candidates' resumes before the deadline tomorrow.

Reter would have to recuse himself from the selection process, leaving seven members to vote on the nomination.

Within 10 days of Burns' ouster, the committee must also advertise the vacancy in its membership and solicit resumes. Those should be postmarked no later than July 25.

Nine members are elected to the committee every four years during the Republican primary. They serve four years, representing the interests of the local party and organizing its activities.

The state party will not be part of the selection process to fill Burns' position.

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