Carroll commissioner candidates talk drugs, resources, legislation in forum

Carroll commissioner candidates talk drugs, resources, legislation in forum
[Left to right] Dennis Frazier, Maria Warburton, Christopher "Eric" Bouchat and Paul Johnson answered a variety of questions about Districts 3 and 4 and the commissioner candidate forum on Oct. 9.

At a combined District 3 and 4 commissioner candidate forum, incumbent Republican Commissioner Dennis Frazier and his Democratic opponent Maria Warburton answered questions about issues in District 3.

Answering those same questions Tuesday night, Oct. 9, for District 4, were Republican candidate Christopher “Eric” Bouchat and Democratic candidate Paul Johnson.


When Carroll County Times Editor Wayne Carter, the forum’s moderator, asked what the single biggest issue facing each candidate’s respective district was, three of the four said it was water.

“We have plenty of businesses in District 3,” Frazier said, “and we have had unprecedented development in District 3 in the past four years. But what’s holding everything up right now is water.”

The county is growing and working on its economic development, but resources like water are not as plentiful.

Frazier said that at the last Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City, he asked for relief on behalf of his district in the form of opening a pipeline from Medford Quarry.

“Hopefully within the next 30 to 60 days that tap will turn on,” he said. And when it does it will add the much-needed water to the city of Westminster.

Warburton and Johnson agreed, with Warburton explaining her work experience gives her valuable insight on how to handle the resource issue.

“I worked for the [Maryland Department of the Environment] for nearly 30 years,” she said. “I worked with … the public water supply divisions, the group that handles water supply regulations for Maryland. Whether it be wells, reservoirs — all of those — I am experienced in writing regulations and I know where the gaps are in it.

“I know how to work with the regulations for our benefit,” said Warburton, “and for all these reason think I would be the most experienced person handling the water issues currently facing the City of Westminster as well as the rest of the county.”

Johnson, a Mount Airy resident, said perhaps there could be collaboration with Frederick County to get water from the Monocacy River or build a reservoir in the town.

Another important issue to him and District 4, he said, is the opioid epidemic.


For Bouchat, though, the opioid epidemic is the biggest issue by far. It was his reason for running for commissioner for a third time despite two previous defeats.

“The opioid epidemic is a life and death issue that has affected not only the district but the county,” Bouchat said. “I want to work with the county, sheriff’s department and law enforcement … to work closely with those institutions to give them the resources they need to help stop the deaths.”

Bouchat recently lost his daughter to the opioid epidemic and said it was State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo who urged him to run for office again and address the drug problem.

When Carter asked what the candidates would do about the opiate epidemic, Bouchat said he wanted to end the stigma associated with addiction and encourage openness and honesty. He also said he would keep supporting the Not in Carroll initiative — which funds the county’s drug abuse prevention campaign.


As a current member of the Board of County Commissioners, Frazier said he felt a lot of efforts have been made so far to push drug dealers out of Carroll County.

“That initiative put money into the Sheriff’s Office, State’s Attorney’s Office … to follow drug dealers, to make sure nothing falls between the cracks,” said Frazier. “If they’re arrested in Carroll County, we go as far as we can to make sure they get the maximum penalty. Of course they will go somewhere else, but the point is — Not in Carroll.”

Warburton said continued collaboration between the multiple agencies involved in Not in Carroll will be necessary to keep improving the initiative.

“As commissioners we can’t do much just on our own,” she said. “The Health Department is currently the umbrella agency, in my understanding, for all the different groups helping to fight this epidemic.

“And they coordinate with the sheriff’s department, State’s Attorney’s Office, health centers and others to coordinate how to fight the issue,” said Warburton. “It’s definitely multipronged.”

But Johnson said he had a slightly different recommendation. He said law enforcement is key.

“I’ve talked to a few different physicians and doctors, and addiction is a really hard thing to treat,” he said. “And I believe the only way to get somebody into rehab is by policing hotspots.

“I do think that we are going to have to get them in front of the legal system,” said Johnson, “and they’ve got to make a life-changing decision. Not everybody wants to get into rehab, but I think it is going to be tough.”


When asked what legislation candidates would support or try to get to Annapolis, Frazier continued the opiate discussion.

“When doctors are prescribing opioids, the prescriptions should last no longer than six days,” he said. “Studies are out there that say an adult taking prescription opioids can be addicted in as little as seven days. Why give a prescription that lasts more than six days? If you are in cancer or hospice treatments, opioids are fine. But if there is something else to go with, why not go for that instead?”

He also said he wanted to see more help for people out of intensive outpatient programs and more funding for crisis beds.

Johnson said he wanted to get more funding for education after seeing state assistance go down due to decreased student enrollments.

“What I would like to work on is getting education money redistricted to Carroll County,” he said. “I see Carroll County as being very shortchanged. I know we are flat, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need teachers.”

Warburton said she wants more funding as well — but that legislation she would recommend additional highway user fees.

“That could be an additional funding source so that money from Carroll County could go into Carroll County,” she said. “There has been some improvement to that in the years, but there’s no specific legislation that says if it comes from Carroll it goes back to Carroll.”

And Bouchat said that he would use his existing longtime relationships with members of the state delegation to have conversations about legislation early on and get the support necessary.

Other questions involved charter government — an idea Bouchat and Frazier said they support, and Warburton and Johnson said they would support it if their constituents wanted it — the future of the former North Carroll High School, economic development and the Freedom Community Comprehensive Plan.


The forum was hosted by the Community Media Center and Carroll County Times. It will be streamed on local cable channels 19 and 23 as well as on the Community Media Center’s Website.