First Democrat enters race

Columbia man who opposed development to run for county executive

October 12, 2005|By LARRY CARSON | LARRY CARSON,SUN REPORTER

The Democrats have their first announced candidate for Howard County executive, but his name is not exactly a household word.

Harry M. Dunbar, 61, of Columbia, a retired federal employee and critic of development who has participated in Democratic and Republican campaign events, said he will run a "grass-roots independent Democratic campaign," next year for the county's top job.

"Howard County needs a county executive who knows how to say `no' to developers," said Dunbar, who in 2002 worked for Republican county executive candidate Steven H. Adler.

Dunbar favors a county purchase of land behind Merriweather Post Pavilion for a park rather than allow General Growth to develop it, and he's generally for slower growth to stop school crowding and traffic congestion.

Now a real estate agent, Dunbar ran for County Council in 1986 as an independent and received 9 percent of the vote, which he said was a learning experience. Voters, he said, don't vote for independents, which is why he's running as a Democrat this time.

Some Democrats were skeptical of Dunbar's chances.

"He almost does things for shock value," said C. Vernon Gray, the five-term former county councilman who defeated Dunbar two decades ago.

"No one knows where he's coming from, ever," said County Council Chairman Guy Guzzone, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat who has said he will not run for county executive. "He runs around with Republican T-shirts on and says he's a Democrat." Said West Columbia Democrat Ken Ulman, a possible candidate for county executive: "I can say confidently that makes absolutely no difference in my decision-making process."

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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