Columbia voting today, tomorrow

Elections come at critical time

April 25, 2008|By June Arney | June Arney,sun reporter

Residents will cast votes today and tomorrow for Columbia Association board members who will help usher the town through a critical time of partnering with General Growth Properties Inc. on downtown redevelopment, selecting a new president and addressing critical environmental issues.

Elections are being held in nine of Columbia's 10 villages. Five villages will elect CA board members -- one of the races is not contested. Also, elections for village board are to be held.

In Oakland Mills, where eight-year veteran CA board member Barbara Russell is retiring, each of the two candidates vying for her seat has lived in the community for years and worked on civic causes.

Alex Hekimian, 64, an engineer and transportation planner who is retired from the Montgomery County planning department, and Phillips S. Engelke, 62, a graphic designer who is a vice president at RTKL, a global architecture and design firm, are the candidates.

As Russell prepares to step down, she looks to negotiations among the Columbia Association, GGP and county government as the top priority for the next board.

"That by far is the most important issue before CA, and I think that is why the people who are running are running this time for the CA board," she said. "I think this is one of the most important times for CA. It could have the biggest effect on the assessment payer. What CA does with regard to downtown could cost a ton of money."

As she steps down, Russell said her greatest fear for CA's future is that the organization may take on too large a role and increase the debt it already carries some 40 years after Columbia's creation.

"My concern about CA is that CA will be convinced by either GGP or the county, or both, to take on debt we shouldn't be taking on," she said. "I think the county and GGP should pay their own way. Everyone agrees there should be lovely amenities downtown. Well, who's going to pay for that?"

The Columbia Association was created to pay for the amenities that the Rouse Co. used to sell its properties, she said.

"I don't want CA to be in the position that when GGP packs up and goes back to Chicago, that CA assessment payers are left holding the bag," she said.

In other Columbia villages, contested CA board races are slated for:

Harper's Choice, where incumbent Cynthia Coyle is being challenged by Lynda Maxwell.

Town Center, where Stephen Meskin faces Suzanne Waller for the seat held by Gail Broida, who is not seeking re-election.

Wilde Lake, where incumbent Philip W. Kirsch faces challenger Linda Odum.

In Hickory Ridge, incumbent Miles Coffman has no challenger. Incumbent Pearl Atkinson-Stewart has no challenger in Owen Brown, and no election is being held there because village board members also have no opposition.

june.arney@baltsun.com

Polling places, times

Village elections for Columbia Council members and village board members will be today and tomorrow. Voters may be asked to provide proof of residency. Because there are no contested races, Owen Brown is not holding an election.

Dorsey's Search

When:

Tomorrow, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where:

Linden Hall, 4765 Dorsey Hall Drive, Ellicott City

At stake:

Village board -- three seats open.

Contact:

410-730-4005

Harper's Choice

When:

Tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where:

Outside near Safeway

At stake:

Council -- Incumbent Cynthia Coyle vs. Lynda Maxwell; Village board -- one seat open.

Contact:

410-730-0770

Hickory Ridge

When:

Tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where:

Hawthorn Center, 6175 Sunny Spring

At stake:

Council -- Incumbent Miles Coffman has no challenger; Village board -- five seats open.

Contact:

410-730-7327

Kings Contrivance

When:

Today, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where:

Amherst House, 7251 Eden Brook Drive

At stake:

Village board -- three seats open.

Contact:

410-381-9600

Long Reach

When:

Tomorrow, 9:30 a.m. to noon

Where:

Stonehouse, 8775 Cloudleap Court

At stake:

Village board -- three seats open.

Contact:

410-730-8113

Oakland Mills

When:

Tomorrow, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where:

The Other Barn, 5851 Robert Oliver Place

At stake:

Council -- Phillips S. Engelke vs. Alex Hekimian; Village Board -- seven seats open.

Contact:

410-730-4610

River Hill

When/Where:

Tomorrow 7:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at Columbia Gym, 6151 Daylong Lane; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Claret Hall, 6020 Daybreak Circle

At stake:

Village board -- four seats open.

Contact:

410-531-1749

Town Center

When/Where:

Tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Vantage Point Road Park Gazebo; Residents only of Vantage House and Evergreens may vote at their residence from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

At stake:

Council --Stephen Meskin vs. Suzanne Waller; Village board -- two seats open.

Contact:

410-730-4744

Wilde Lake

When:

Tomorrow, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where:

Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane

At stake:

Council -- Incumbent Philip W. Kirsch vs. Linda Odum; Village board -- five seats open.

Contact:

410-730-3987

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