District 5 a three-way race

A trio of Republicans are battling in the primary for County Council

Maryland Votes 2006


Republican County Council candidate Greg Fox succinctly summed up his case to be the GOP's nominee in District 5 at a recent Howard County Republican Club forum in Lisbon.

"It is our seat, and you should be sure it is held by a true Republican -- somebody who has always been a Republican," Fox said.

Fox's comments about loyalty are aimed at retired county Police Chief Wayne Livesay. The two and third-time candidate Jim Adams are locked in a three-way Republican primary battle for the nomination.

Livesay, 55, switched his lifelong Republican registration to Democrat in 2002 to support the re-election of County Executive James N. Robey, a Democrat. Robey, the former police chief, appointed Livesay as permanent chief.

Livesay switched back to the GOP before filing to run for County Council.

Fox, 39, is appealing to the GOP faithful in the county's most rural, western district -- the core of the 25 percent or less registered Republicans who likely will vote in the Sept. 12 primary.

With no high-profile Republican contests in the primary to attract voters, observers do not expect many more than the 4,540 GOP voters who turned out in District 5 in September 2002, so appealing to party loyalty could attract votes.

"There's no governor or U.S. Senate race [in the GOP primary]," said state Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, a former county councilman who is backing Fox. "That's why it's so important that you door-knock and meet people."

District 5 Councilman Charles C. Feaga, who can't run again because of term limits, is backing Livesay in the election. The councilman said he opposes party-backed primary slates, and added that although Fox's party-loyalty appeal could work, Feaga believes that it is a bogus issue.

Former two-term Republican County Executive Charles I. Ecker and former GOP County Councilman Darrell E. Drown were originally Democrats, Feaga pointed out.

"Wayne's whole family are Republicans," Feaga said, adding that Livesay's temporary switch to Democrat was based on his long years working with Robey. "That's a friendship thing."

Finding support

Knocking on doors near Waverly Elementary School recently, Fox and Kittleman found Fran Griffith readying her family minivan for an Ocean City vacation.

A party loyalist and friend of Kittleman, she readily agreed to support both men with yard signs and her vote. Down the street, Jeffrey Laynor, another Kittleman contact, and Saxon Birdsong, an acquaintance, also agreed to put up lawn signs.

"I'm glad to see you running, and I hope you'll win," Birdsong said to both men, encouraging Fox.

"The Republican faithful will be there for me," Fox said, walking to the next house.

Livesay said he is not worried.

"I haven't run into that [party-loyalty issue] one time with somebody I didn't know." The 34-year police veteran has photos of himself with President Bush and his mother, Barbara Bush, on his campaign Web site.

"I don't think it will work," Livesay said about the attacks on his party credibility. Fox is criticizing him, the former police chief said, "because I'm the guy who's going to beat him."

The primary winner in the GOP-dominated district will face Democrat Donald Dunn in the general election.

Livesay presents himself as a true Howard native -- a man who grew up poor in western Howard farm country and learned every nook and cranny of the county -- and county government -- as a career police officer. He sees the County Council job as a natural extension of his primary public service, he said.

Maybe that is why he likes to wave campaign signs at the county landfill on Saturdays.

"Most people are pretty happy going to the landfill. People are in a good mood," he said, recounting how one man who recognized him dumped his junk and returned to give Livesay at $500 check. "It's a good location."

Knocking on doors in a new upscale Frederick Road community for seniors one recent hot and breezy afternoon, Livesay ran into several residents who knew him. One was Marlene Beck, 72, a 41-year county resident who moved to her retirement home in October.

"I like what he stands for," she said, promising him her vote.

The Fox-Livesay battle gives Adams hope.

Working up to 60 hours a week at his full-time Morgan University accounting job leaves him little time to campaign, but Adams, 64, hopes that the rivalry between his two competitors will help him.

"I think about 5,000 people will vote; I already got 700," he said, referring to the 750 votes he received running for the same seat four years ago -- to then-Councilman Kittleman's 3,658. Split three ways, a candidate could win with about a third of the votes, he said.

"I think the attacks Greg makes on Wayne may help," Adams said. "Those two end up fighting."

Listen to message

He said voters may listen more to his message on what he sees as a lack of trust on development between the voters and the County Council.

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