Howard County

Maryland Votes 2006

September 01, 2006

Not much to complain about in Howard County, where incomes are high, schools are good, and citizen involvement seems above average. So as the county government is about to undergo a complete turnover, much of the campaign debate is focused on fine-tuning - particularly the zoning process, in which critics say developers have far too much sway.

County executive: The two-man Democratic primary for the top job is little more than a protest of County Councilman Ken Ulman's role in a rezoning of 38 properties dubbed "Comp Lite" because it was done outside the regular once-a-decade comprehensive rezoning process. On a broader array of issues, Mr. Ulman is clearly a better choice than retired Social Security employee Harry M. Dunbar for executive. But Mr. Ulman would be foolish to ignore the outrage of citizens who petitioned the rezoning changes to referendum but were thwarted by the courts.

There is no Republican primary for executive.

Primary contests for the County Council are being waged this year in three of the five districts.

Council District 2: Calvin Ball, an instructor at the Columbia office of the University of Phoenix who was appointed to the East Columbia seat in April, hasn't yet made much of a mark but deserves to be the Democrats' nominee for a full term.

In the district's Republican primary, the standout is Gina Gabrielle Ellrich, a Columbia businesswoman who has good ideas about increasing the stock of affordable housing by revitalizing older neighborhoods.

Council District 4: A heated Democratic contest is being waged for this West Columbia seat, now held by Mr. Ulman, between one of his proteges and a former opponent. Both are talented and knowledgeable, but the best choice for balanced government is school board member Mary Kay Sigaty, who lost to Mr. Ulman four years ago by fewer than 300 votes. A small-business owner who has been active in community discussions about redevelopment of the Columbia town center, Ms. Sigaty is a stern critic of the "Comp Lite" process because it skirted regular rezoning procedures designed to allow for maximum citizen participation.

There is no Republican primary.

Council District 5: Retired county Police Chief Wayne Livesay of Sykesville should be the Republicans' choice for the council seat representing the rural, western half of the county. His deep roots in the county and long public service background would add to the council a valuable dimension that might not otherwise be represented.

There is no Democratic primary.

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