GOP thrives

home rule falters

Carroll County

Maryland Votes 2006 -- A Special Section

November 08, 2006|By Laura McCandlish and Arin Gencer | Laura McCandlish and Arin Gencer,Sun Reporters

Vying to retain seats on the three-member board, Carroll County Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Dean L. Minnich held solid leads last night while a code home rule referendum that would have brought more local government control appeared headed toward defeat, according to election results.

With more than 57 percent of Carroll's 99,000 registered voters casting ballots in yesterday's election, conservative Republican Michael D. Zimmer held a slight lead over Democrat Dennis E. Beard for the third seat on the Board of Commissioners.

Among Carroll's races for the House of Delegates, the four Republican incumbents - Donald B. Elliott, Susan W. Krebs, Tanya Shewell and Nancy R. Stocksdale - carried commanding leads.

After butting heads this year with the leaders of the delegation to Annapolis, Gouge said last night she hoped communication could be repaired.

"Once you're in office, you're working for all the people, regardless of party affiliation or whether they supported you or not," Gouge said. "[The delegation] should remember the same thing when working with the commissioners."

In an unusually heated campaign season, Carroll County's Republican Party was a house divided. Gouge and Minnich broke with the party by refusing to support Zimmer for the third commissioner seat.

In recent weeks, a number of county Republicans said they would cross party lines and vote for Beard, the Democrat, in addition to Gouge and Minnich. A political action committee was formed to support that slate of candidates.

In Carroll, and across the state, results in close races were still tentative last night.

Patricia K. Matsko, director of the county Board of Elections, said there were nearly 6,300 absentee ballots mailed out in the county - three times the number requested in the 2002 election.

Absentee ballots will be counted during two sessions, tomorrow and Nov. 17.

If the code home rule measure is approved, Carroll's government structure would be retained, but the commissioners would no longer require General Assembly approval to enact most local laws, as they do now.

Krebs and other South Carroll residents starting pushing the code home rule issue last spring. Zimmer, Shewell and Stocksdale have all campaigned against the measure, arguing that it would lead to higher taxes.

The Carroll County Republican Central Committee and the conservative South Carroll Republican Club also launched a last-minute campaign against code home rule. The entrances to Carroll's polling stations yesterday were peppered with red "Vote No" to code home rule signs.

In the nonpartisan Board of Education race, incumbents Gary Bauer and Patricia Gadberry and newcomer Barbara Shreeve were leading in last night's returns.

"It looks like I'm going to be back in again," said Bauer, who was vying for a fourth term on the five-member board. "I'm glad that people want me back."

School board members are elected to four-year terms.

The three other contenders for the school board were George Maloney, David Roush and Eric Weber.

There were several uncontested races in Carroll. Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning and State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes ran unopposed in the both the September primary and the general election.

State Sen. Larry E. Haines, the leader of Carroll's state delegation, and state Sen. David R. Brinkley, who represents northwestern Carroll, defeated their only challengers in the Republican primary.

Given the problems with electronic voting and the surge in absentee ballots, more election results could be disputed this year, Matsko said.

"If it's a close race and someone feels strongly that they would win and they don't, then obviously they come to [question] the voting system," she said.

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