Police union endorses Ulman for executive

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

July 23, 2006|By LARRY CARSON

Democrat Ken Ulman has won the endorsement of Howard's county police for his county executive campaign, union officials said.

The Howard County Police Association also chose four Democrats - Courtney Watson, Calvin Ball, Jen Terassa and Joshua Feldmark - and Republican Wayne Livesay to back in County Council races.

Ulman called the support "a tremendous boost to our campaign," especially because it means concrete volunteer help from union members.

Republican Christopher J. Merdon also campaigned for the endorsement, said union Secretary Dan Besseck, but the vote for Ulman was unanimous. Besseck did not say how many officers voted.

"The police union has always supported a Democrat for county executive. When you have the president of the union [James F. Fitzgerald] running as a Democrat for sheriff, and the head of the political action committee [Besseck] on the Democratic Central committee, what outcome would you expect?" Merdon said.

Fitzgerald said he avoided the endorsement process because of his candidacy. Besseck said "three-quarters of our membership is registered Republican, and this union has shown we're ready to back Republicans who have the same philosophy we do on the issues."

The group backed Merdon and Allan H. Kittleman in 2002 for County Council, and this year endorsed Kittleman for state Senate and Republicans Gail H. Bates and Melissa Ridgely Covolesky for the House of Delegates from western Howard.

"Both candidates [Ulman and Merdon] have been doing a good job," Besseck said. Ulman's "been very aggressive on public safety issues," he said, noting the council bill Ulman sponsored to give police officers the ability to pay lower rents if they agree to live in certain apartment complexes.

Primary election endorsements also were made last week by the Sierra Club and by the Columbia Democratic Club - the latter after a six-hour meeting that ended about 1 a.m. Thursday after a third round of ballots.

In contested primaries, the CDC chose U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin for U.S. Senate by a 2-to-1 margin over Kwesi Mfume; former Baltimore Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson for Cardin's current 3rd District congressional seat; and Del. Peter Franchot of Montgomery County by a nearly 2-to-1 margin over Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens for state comptroller. Incumbent Comptroller William Donald Schaefer got just two votes. The club could not decide whom to back for attorney general.

In county races, the club chose Ulman over Harry Dunbar, 110-3, for county executive; Ball over Adam Sachs, 110-6, in east Columbia's District 2; and after three ballots, Joshua Feldmark for County Council in west Columbia's District 4 over Mary Kay Sigaty. Sigaty led Feldmark on the first ballot, 60-54, but she did not get a majority. Feldmark won on the third ballot.

"Four years ago, I had no endorsements," said Sigaty. "The election is won on the street."

Said Feldmark: "I feel like it's a great sign. It means a lot."

The club also endorsed four Democrats running for three seats in the House of Delegates in District 13 - incumbents Frank S. Turner, Neil Quinter and Shane E. Pendergrass, and County Council veteran Guy Guzzone.

The police union did the same thing, leaving the voters to decide which of the four should be eliminated. In Maryland, each legislative district has one state senator and three delegates.

The Sierra Club picked Quinter over former club staff director Guzzone. The club also chose Feldmark over Sigaty.

Lee Walker Oxenham, the Sierra Club political chairman, said Quinter's incumbent status and good voting record gave him the nod, though it was close. "Both have strong environmental credentials," she said. Sigaty "showed real depth on a range of policy issues - but she is not an environmentalist and has not focused her career on environmental activism. Josh has," Oxenham said.

League's forum

Congressional candidates gathered in the County Council chambers in Ellicott City last week for a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Howard County.

The war in Iraq appeared to separate Democrats and Republicans hoping to replace Cardin. His 3rd District covers most of east Columbia and Elkridge, but it also includes some of Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City.

"I'm not going to pull a [Henry] Kissinger," said Republican candidate Eugenia Korsak Ordynsky, in reference to the Nixon-era Secretary of State who helped engineer the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.

"We dedicated ourselves to this. At this point, I think it will be a disaster to pull our troops ... and it will be allowing our soldiers to die in vain."

Other Republican candidates echoed that.

"We need to honor the troops, but we need to keep our resolve to win this war," said Republican Gary Applebaum. "This is a war against evil that we have to win."

Democrats disagreed.

"We're bullying the rest of the world," said Democrat Peter Beilenson.

"The most important thing in foreign policy right now is ending the war in Iraq," said Democrat Andy Barth.

John P. Sarbanes, son of five-term Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, said, "You can kick down the door, or you can come in silently ... we need humility."

Democrats also advocated reforming Congress.

"The problem with Congress is Congress itself," said Democratic candidate Paula C. Hollinger.

"The most important thing is to be accessible to people," said Democratic hopeful Kevin O'Keefe, before giving the audience his cell phone number.

Also in attendance for District 3 were Republicans Bruce Altschuler, Rick Hoover, Paul Spause and John White. Other Democrats in attendance were Mishonda Baldwin, Oz Bengur and John Rea.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jorge Valencia contributed to this column.

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