Carroll Democrats nominate seven to seek state, county offices

Maryland votes 2006


Carroll County's Democratic Central Committee nominated seven candidates for county and state elected office by yesterday's deadline for naming party members to fill vacancies on the ballot.

Democratic candidates face an arduous battle in Carroll, where the majority of registered voters are Republicans. The only Democrat who had filed to run for the county Board of Commissioners by the original July 3 filing deadline withdrew last week.

The three Democratic commissioner candidates, who all live in Sykesville, are Dennis E. Beard, 60, a retired Howard County firefighter; Vincent F. DiPietro, 67, a retired electrical engineer from the Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt; and Richard F. Solomon, 53, a senior planner at First Data, a credit-card-transaction company.

As a conservative Democrat, Beard said he respects the current commissioners but would further stress fiscal responsibility and funding for schools.

"I realize I've got a very long road to travel to achieve victory," he said. "But if the central committee hadn't gotten some folks to step forward, come the general election, at the local level, there would really be no reason for Democrats to vote."

Only one-third of the county's registered voters are Democrats. A little more than half are Republicans, according to the most recent statistics released by the local Board of Elections. The county's General Assembly delegation and the county commissioners are all Republicans.

"At one time, almost all the office holders were Democrats," Herbert C. Smith, a political scientist at McDaniel College, said of Carroll County in the 1960s and 1970s. "Things change in politics. The way you build a party is by waging campaigns, providing an avenue for folks to express certain views."

The Democratic candidate who withdrew from the commissioner race, Dana L. Dembrow, a former Montgomery County delegate who lives in Sykesville, said he decided to focus on raising his two daughters after his wife's unexpected death late last month.

Suzette Dembrow had a stroke and cerebral hemorrhage and died during brain surgery, her husband said.

"I've gone through an immediate tragedy," Dembrow said. "I just want to get out of the public eye."

Dembrow's relationship with his late wife provided another obstacle that could have haunted his campaign. In 2002, Dembrow admitted slapping his wife, but he was acquitted of assault charges when she refused to testify against him.

The three new Democratic commissioner candidates are all from South Carroll, the county's most populous and rapidly growing region.

"There's a better Democrat-to-Republican ratio there," Smith said. "The north end of the county is very conservative."

Still, there isn't a single voting precinct in the county that isn't majority Republican, said Gail Carter, deputy director of the Board of Elections.

A day after Dembrow withdrew, Donald I. Dell, the former three-term, pro-development commissioner who lost in the 2002 primary, also dropped out of the commissioner race.

Dell, 81, who calls himself a "homegrown conservative Republican farmer," said his fifth-generation farming family did not want him to run again.

He said he will not publicly endorse any commissioner candidates.

"I'm not sure my public support would help anybody," Dell said.

The central committee also nominated two Democrats for the District 5A House of Delegates race, which is crowded with seven Republicans.

The district's voters, from Westminster, Hampstead and Manchester, will elect two delegates in what could prove a particularly contentious race.

The Democratic 5A candidates, Frank H. Rammes of Finksburg and Ann Darrin of Westminster, are also running as incumbents for spots on the Democratic Central Committee.

Democrats decided to focus on District 5A because there are no clear Republican frontrunners for the seats, said Martin A. Radinsky, chairman of the county's Democratic Central Committee.

The committee's two other Democratic nominees are also from Sykesville. Nimrod Davis Jr. joins six Republicans in a run for clerk of the court and Valerie Schultz will challenge Republican incumbent Paul G. Zimmermann for register of wills.

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