Jones not yielding in commissioner race

Incumbent trails Mount Airy attorney by 450 votes for third spot on the board with about 1,000 to be counted

Carroll County

Maryland Votes 2006 -- The Primary Election

September 14, 2006|By Laura McCandlish | Laura McCandlish,Sun Reporter

With about 1,000 absentee and provisional ballots left to be counted in Carroll County, incumbent Commissioner Perry L. Jones Jr. isn't conceding defeat in his re-election bid.

Newcomer Michael D. Zimmer, a Mount Airy attorney, edged out Jones by about 450 votes in Tuesday's GOP primary for a chance to win a seat on the three-member Board of Commissioners in November.

"I'm not going to declare defeat until the last vote is counted," Jones said yesterday. "I still have some hope. Regardless of what happens, the new commissioners won't be sworn in until Dec. 4. Until that time, I'm still a commissioner in Carroll County and proud to be."

Longtime incumbent Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge had a clear victory over the other nine GOP candidates while Zimmer trailed incumbent Commissioner Dean L. Minnich. The top three vote-getters advance to the general election in November.

Jones said he had not considered a write-in campaign if he officially loses the GOP primary. "I don't know whether it's worth the hassle or not," he said.

About 750 absentee ballots and 250 provisional ones should be counted by the end of next week, said Patricia K. Matsko, director of the county Board of Elections.

Jones, a former Union Bridge mayor, was strong in his home base of Northwest Carroll and made a respectable showing in the Westminster area. But Zimmer, an Eldersburg resident, outpaced him in most precincts in populous South Carroll.

During the primary campaign, Zimmer, a conservative and a former Republican Central Committee member, called for a clean sweep of the current board of commissioners, all GOP moderates.

"Clearly, Minnich and Gouge have some popular positions, but there are other policies that need to be followed through on," said Zimmer. "There needs to be a fresh look at how they handled the relationship with the delegation. I can be that bridge."

Leading up to the primary, Zimmer stressed his strong ties to Annapolis. He was the only commissioner candidate endorsed by state Sen. Larry E. Haines, a social and fiscal conservative who is the leader of Carroll's all-Republican Annapolis delegation.

The current commissioners have frequently traded barbs with Haines and spoken out against his proposed bills.

"Assuming I pull it out in this primary, we're going to have to work hard to find the common ground," Zimmer said, referring to Minnich and Gouge. "I know they have a lot of practical knowledge running the county. They have a lot they can teach me."

Gouge said yesterday that she and Minnich differ with Zimmer on taxes, government staff and salaries. He would be in the minority, Gouge said, as she was on the board when she served with Donald I. Dell and Robin Bartlett Frazier until 2002.

"Definitely, we're coming from different points of view," Gouge said of Zimmer. "He talked about lowering taxes but still doing all these things. It's not looking at the real picture of how things work."

A local conservative Web site ran ads and articles backing Zimmer while attacking the three current commissioners.

Jones said false information in those negative ads and low voter turnout contributed to his defeat.

He criticized the Web site and its author for writing that Jones is "not a full-time resident of Carroll County and must drop out of the commissioner race."

A Union Bridge resident since 1970, Jones co-owns an auto service station with his brother. He rents an apartment in Union Bridge and owns property there on Priestland Road.

He said the Republican Central Committee started circulating the rumors about his residence a few years ago.

"It's just another one of their lies," Jones said.

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