Officials expect a low turnout at Sykesville vote

5 vying for 3 council seats as mayor runs unopposed

April 24, 2005|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Sykesville's mayor is running unopposed for a fourth term on a ballot with five council candidates vying for three available seats.

With no pressing issues or referendums for the more than 2,200 registered voters to decide, officials are predicting a low turnout May 3 in the town of 4,500.

"This election may lend itself to the conclusion that people here are satisfied with the job we are doing and the progress we are making to improve the quality of life," said Mayor Jonathan S. Herman, 52.

Herman, a restoration contractor who served on the town planning commission and council before being elected mayor 10 years ago, said, "I have managed to evolve into the position until it has become a part of my life. It is really like an appendage."

The candidates, all running for four-year terms, have said they will continue efforts to revitalize downtown and turn the former state hospital property, called the Warfield Complex, into a business, education and cultural center.

"They are all fine candidates with benevolent intentions," Herman said. "I relish their participation in local government."

Councilwoman Jeannie Nichols, who is seeking a third term, said the town "has really turned a corner. People are not running to oppose anything. They are running to join us, to participate in town government."

The council candidates include an attorney, a business owner, an accountant and a computer specialist. They all favor more recreational opportunities, a balanced budget and the lowest taxes possible.

"The cost of running the town keeps going up," said Councilwoman Debby Ellis, 53, a technology manager for the Social Security Administration, who is vying for a third term. "We have to decide what we have to get done, what we can postpone and what we really want to do."

Two new residents also want to participate in that decision-making.

James M. Dore, 39, moved to a home in Sykesville's historic downtown five years ago and was soon appointed to the town ethics commission. An attorney with offices in Columbia, Dore has worked as a legislative aide to then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer and a legislative liaison to the state Department of Business and Economic Development.

"I have the ability, and it is incumbent upon me to give back to my community," Dore said. "All the town officials and staff are doing a great job, and I would like to be part of it."

Jason D. Plummer, 28, a Marine Corps veteran with a master's in business administration, bought his first home in the town a year ago.

"We have made a huge investment and anticipate staying here a long time," Plummer said. "I see a lot of potential here, and I can bring my education and experience to help."

Nichols, Ellis and their council colleague Eugene Johnson are running a team campaign, putting together a mailing and posting signs.

"I love town politics," said Nichols, 47 and the co-owner of a wellness business. "We have worked so hard on projects that are coming to fruition. I want to see them through and start more."

At 68, Johnson, a semi-retired maintenance manager, is the senior town politician, with 20 years' experience and a willingness to serve a fifth term. He also is the longest-sitting current councilman and the only African-American holding a municipal office in Carroll County.

"I want to stay in there with the council to see programs finished," Johnson said. "I want to be part of the team that works on Warfield and downtown. I just like getting jobs done. We all work really good together and communicate well."

He is leaving much of the campaigning to the councilwomen.

"If people don't know me by now, they probably never will," he said.

Sykesville

Election Day: Tuesday, May 3.

Voting: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Polling Place: Town House, 7547 Main St.

Candidates: Five candidates for three council seats. Mayor running unopposed.

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