SPRAWLING WESTERN Howard County will have a new County Council representative after next year's election, and Republican Greg Fox, 38, of Fulton wants to be that person.
Fox hopes to win the Republican nomination for the council post and replace Republican Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a three-term veteran appointed last year to fill a vacancy. Feaga is barred by term limits from running for another full term.
Fox announced his campaign at a sunny, steamy political picnic Sunday at Nixon's Farm in West Friendship, and he received important endorsements.
Fox was endorsed by Allan H. Kittleman, a state senator and former councilman and Maryland Republican national committeeman, and Louis M. Pope, former Howard County Republican Party chairman.
Pope, who said he was speaking as a resident and voter, said Fox, a technical sales specialist for Constellation Energy, has "the requirements and the attributes" to do the job and likely would be successful if he wins the party's nomination, which Pope claimed is virtually tantamount to election in the Republican-dominated district.
Kittleman was even less restrained, referring to himself, County Councilman Christopher J. Merdon and Fox as "kind of like `the Three Amigos' " who all launched their first campaigns together in 1998.
"This guy, I think the world of," Kittleman said, proclaiming his "150 percent" backing. "I'll do whatever I can to get him elected."
Fox, a Fulton resident who lost an uphill bid in 1998 to unseat Democrat Mary Lorsung in west Columbia's District 4, was redistricted into District 5 after the last census, and now seems to have the backing of key GOP insiders.
The $40-a-ticket ($100-a-family) event netted about $5,000, Fox said, and attracted Maryland Homeland Security Director Dennis R. Schrader, Del. Gail H. Bates and Merdon, an Ellicott City Republican who is running for county executive.
Rose LaVerghetta, a former GOP central committee member, is campaign chairperson, and two potential rivals, tax protest leader Pat Dornan, and slow-growth advocate John Taylor, said they are not planning to run.
"I don't think he [Fox] has any serious competition," Dornan said.
Joan Becker, a Glenwood real estate attorney and critic of the county's Western Regional Park near her home, is said to be organizing a campaign. She said she may run but is not ready to announce her intentions.
Fox said he announced his campaign early because District 5 is the largest geographically, covering an area from Lisbon to Interstate 95, near North Laurel.
"I want to get out there early," he said, though he provided no detailed positions on issues.
Democratic Party Chairwoman Wendy Fiedler had a cautionary word for the GOP, however.
"They are counting their chickens before they're hatched," Fiedler said. "I'll grant you it's a highly Republican district, but in the end it's going to be the candidate who is going to matter." With the right candidate, she added, "anything can happen."
School board races
School board campaigns are typically low key because candidates are nonpartisan advocates for education, not political parties. But with Howard County's five-member school board slated to expand to seven after next year's election, and three current members' terms expiring, five of those nonpartisan seats will be on the November ballot, and at least one new candidate has emerged.
Larry Cohen, 55, of Columbia's Hickory Ridge, a pupil personnel worker for Howard schools who worked on west Columbia Democrat Ken Ulman's County Council campaign in 2002, said he plans to seek a board seat after he retires next spring with 29 years of service with the county school system.
A former social studies teacher and administrator who began his career in Queens, N.Y., and in Baltimore schools, Cohen said he would like to stay involved in local education, though from a new perspective.
"You want to try to make a difference in a different way. I just want to ensure that we're giving opportunities for all kids to succeed. We can always do more," he said, adding that he sees no conflict between his professional role as a board employee and running for the board, too.
It is not clear what two of the three incumbents whose terms will expire will do.
Board member Patricia Gordon said last week that she plans to retire when her term expires. Fellow member Josh Kaufman, appointed by County Executive James N. Robey to fill a vacancy, said he is leaning toward running for a full term, and Courtney Watson, the chairman, has not decided whether to run for re-election to the board or for another office.
Titman files to run
David A. Titman, a veteran lawyer and former federal prosecutor who has several times applied for appointment to the District and Circuit court bench, has filed to run for election to a judicial post next year.
Titman is seeking election to the Circuit Court after the Howard County Judicial Nominating Commission did not recommend him for appointment to one of two vacancies created by the retirements of Judges James B. Dudley and Raymond J. Kane Jr.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is expected to name his choices for both posts soon, but those chosen must run for full 15-year terms in the 2006 elections.
"I want to make it clear that I am not running against Governor Ehrlich's temporary selections, but on my own credentials and experience," Titman said in a statement.