Missing members, Republican committee is `getting it together'

Ousted person reinstated

another is appointed

Carroll County

October 14, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

A decimated Carroll County Republican Central Committee has reinstated an ousted member, appointed another and is working to replace four others who resigned from the panel rather than become embroiled in a court case fighting the ouster.

"We are absolutely getting it together, and we are all working on the presidential campaign," said James Reter, who is now vice chairman of the traditionally nine-member committee elected by county Republicans every four years.

For a brief interval last month, the committee was down to four members, and one of those was Joseph F. Burns Jr., who had been ousted in a closed session July 6.

With advice and support of state party officials, the local committee voted to oust Burns for what former Chairwoman Michelle Jefferson called "housekeeping" issues. She has refused to be more specific.

Burns, who was appointed to the committee three years ago and then elected in 2002, contended that the members had no authority to replace an elected official and sought redress in Carroll County Circuit Court.

"You cannot get rid of an elected official by a vote of peers," Burns said. "There is still a requirement for removal by just cause."

Carroll County Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway temporarily reinstated Burns last month. He ruled that until the issue was resolved, Burns would remain a member of the central committee, with full rights and privileges. Galloway had scheduled an Oct. 12 court hearing on the case.

On Sept. 23, the day after Galloway's ruling, Jefferson, Yvonne Deardorff, Josie Velazquez and Travis Zepp submitted their resignations to the Republican State Central Committee.

"We all resigned in protest to the reinstatement," Jefferson said.

Jefferson and the others who resigned also said that they hoped their departure would end the rift in the local party. John M. Kane, chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, praised them for taking the high road for the sake of the party.

"It is my hope that this decision will begin a healing period for the Republican party," Zepp wrote in an e-mail to The Sun. "The preservation of unity and integrity within the party during this critically important election cycle is paramount."

The three remaining committee members reinstated Burns and named him the panel's secretary Sept. 30. David Jones is now chairman.

"We reinstated Burns back to the date he was dismissed," Reter said.

Michelle Ostrander, a Westminster attorney who represented Burns, filed a motion last week to dismiss the court case and attached the committee resolution to the document.

"The remaining committee members determined that the ouster was improper and reinstated Burns," Ostrander said. "The case is all done. The best course now is for the committee to move on to the upcoming election."

The committee is now at five members, after appointing April Rose to a vacancy created by the departure of Amanda Boyd in August. Burns said he is eager to conduct interviews with his colleagues to fill the other four vacancies on the committee. The deadline for filing for those seats is tomorrow.

"It is back to business for the committee," Burns said. "We are expecting a lot of interest for the four seats."

Jefferson, who is membership chairman for the Maryland Federation of Republican Women, said she and the others who resigned will continue to work for the party. They have been involved in registration drives, door-to-door campaigning and other efforts to re-elect Bush and other Republican candidates Nov. 2.

"We are all still working for the party's interests," Jefferson said. "We are not going anywhere."

The situation created difficulties for everyone concerned, Burns said.

"This is just one of the many challenges we have had to meet," he said. "Now we are putting it to rest, withdrawing the suit and moving on to the election."

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