Democrat Dunn, 77, to seek council seat

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

December 25, 2005|By LARRY CARSON

Not too many people launch new careers at age 77, but Donald J. Dunn is undaunted.

The West Friendship advocate for seniors, public access to recreation and lower property taxes for retirees is planning to run for County Council as a Democrat in Republican-dominated western Howard County's District 5. He ran for the school board in 2000, but this is his first attempt at partisan office.

Running in the western part of the county is a tough road for any Democrat. The district has 19,236 registered Republican voters, 14,797 Democrats and 6,836 independents. Republicans hold all three General Assembly seats and the County Council seat in the area, and Greg Fox, 38, the young GOP council candidate, has strong backing from his party.

None of which deters Dunn, an energetic golf enthusiast and retired business executive who has lived in the same house since 1965.

"By 2015, there will be more seniors than schoolchildren" in western Howard, Dunn said. He serves on the county's Commission on Aging, has served on the Recreation and Parks Board and has been an advocate for a second county-built golf course in West Friendship.

Tony McGuffin, vice chairman of the county Democratic Central Committee, whose members encourage Dunn to make the race, said he is "not an ideological candidate. He's a community-oriented, family guy."

Even Republicans had nothing bad to say about Dunn.

"Bless his heart. He's a great guy. He's a straight-shooter," said 73-year old County Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a western county Republican who is barred from running again by the county's term-limits law. "You know where he's coming from" even if you don't always agree with him, Feaga said.

State Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, a former councilman who last won the seat in 2002 with 72 percent of the vote, is a strong Fox backer, but called Dunn "a very nice person. A dedicated person."

Dunn said he will not knock on 10,000 doors or wave signs in traffic as Fox does. "In this district, I'd need a golf cart" to do that, Dunn said, but he has other strengths.

"I'm very well-known in senior centers and the soccer crowd and recreational people," he said, not to mention several ethnic communities in the county.

And his platform should play well.

"I'm for stopping property taxes for seniors after 65 - not that I expect that to happen," he said.

`Friend-raiser'

Although annual state campaign finance reports are due in Annapolis next month, county executive candidates Christopher J. Merdon and Ken Ulman remain shy about revealing how much money they have collected this fall.

Merdon's Christmas season party/fundraiser attracted more than 200 people to his Ellicott City home Dec., 1, he said, though he would not reveal how much the $50-a-head event added to his campaign kitty - or how much the kitty holds.

"We use it more as a friend-raiser than a fundraiser," said the Republican candidate.

It is Merdon's third fundraising event this fall, and though he would not reveal his financial goals, he speculated that the executive's campaign next year will cost more than the $209,000 raised in 2002 by outgoing County Executive James N. Robey.

Ulman, a Democrat, is holding two "coffee" fundraisers in people's homes before the reports are due, but also kept his totals and his financial goals to himself.

"He ought to have a significant advantage over me in fundraising," Ulman said, noting that Merdon has been planning a run for higher office for several years.

Merdon has been running officially for county executive for three weeks.

Harry Dunbar, another Democrat vying with Ulman for the party nomination, said he will have enough funds to run a campaign. He said he plans a fundraising event for next month.

"I won't get the big money. I'll get the peanuts and be happy with that," he said.

In another campaign finance twist, David Titman, a candidate who is bucking the legal establishment to seek a Circuit Court judgeship, announced that he will not accept contributions from lawyers. He is opposing sitting judges Richard S. Bernhardt and Louis A. Becker, both of whom were appointed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in August.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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