Not that long ago, those attuned to the local political scene in Carroll County were watching and wondering about who may emerge to seek office, particularly on the Boards of County Commissioners and Education. For a while, it seemed, there was a dearth of candidates in both races. As the filing deadline approached and then passed on Feb. 27, the fields certainly filled up.
You’ll be hearing and reading a lot about these names over the next few months in the lead-up to the primary election, which is Tuesday, June 26. (Early voting begins Thursday, June 14 through Thursday, June 21, and will be available at two locations this year – the Westminster Senior and Community Center and the South Carroll Swim Club.)
Three of the five current county commissioners were eligible to seek a second four-year term and all three are doing so. Commissioner Richard Weaver, a Republican whose District 2 includes Hampstead and Finksburg, is the only commissioner candidate running unopposed without a primary or general election challenge.
In District 1, stretching the northern expanse of the county from Taneytown to Manchester, incumbent Stephen Wantz will be challenged in the Republican primary by Katherine Adelaide, the vice president of the Republican Women’s Club of Taneytown who last year ran an unsuccessful campaign for a seat on the Taneytown City Council.
Westminster’s District 3 will see Tom Gordon seek to unseat incumbent Dennis Frazier for the Republican nomination in what should be both a close and potentially expensive race. Gordon has $17,872 in his coffers for the race, according to Maryland campaign finance records filed in January, more than any other commissioner candidate thus far. (Ed Rothstein in District 5 is a close second; although it should be noted candidates that filed for office after the Jan. 16 annual campaign finance deadline have not yet had to report. The next deadline is April 17.)
District 3 will also see the only contested Democratic race in Carroll County, pitting the 2010 Democratic nominee in that district, Doug Mathias, against the 2014 nominee, Maria Warburton. Mathias’ 4,625 votes and 41 percent of the vote share in the 2010 general election is the most of any Democratic commissioner candidate since the election moved to five elected by district that year.
Both Districts 4 and 5 will see four-way races for the Republican nomination to replace two-term commissioners Richard Rothschild and Doug Howard, respectively.
In District 4, which includes Mount Airy, Woodbine, New Windsor, Union Bridge, Winfield and Taylorsville areas, the Republican field consists of retired dentist Paul Burkett, political activist Christopher “Eric” Bouchat, former Union Bridge Mayor Bret Grossnickle and 2014 commissioner candidate Sean Shaffer. Paul Johnson is the only Democrat to file and will move on to the general to face whomever emerges from the Republican field.
Republican Central Committee member Kathy Fuller, Northern News publisher/editor David Greenwalt, former Sykesville Town Council President Frank Robert, and former Ft. Meade Garrison Commander Ret. Col. Ed Rothstein make up the field vying for the Republican nomination in District 5, which includes Eldersburg and the Freedom area, as well as the Town of Sykesville.
With three seats available on the nonpartisan Board of Education, there are 11 candidates who have filed and just one incumbent – current school board president Bob Lord -- among them.
Some are names you’ve probably heard before like Commissioner Doug Howard, who announced his candidacy at the State of the County this year. Mary Kowalski is a perennial candidate for local office and Cathey Allison challenged Howard for his seat on the Board of County Commissioners in 2014. Tara Battaglia and Donald Garmer both fought the school system in legal battles to keep open Charles Carroll Elementary, New Windsor Middle and North Carroll High schools. Patricia Dorsey is a former educator, Muri Dueppen is an education activist and Kenneth Kiler is a long-time youth wrestling coach and a member of this year’s Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame class. Names you might not recognize are Jason Helton, an IT manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a member of the Carroll Cable Regulatory Commission, and Michael Yokay, the president of telecom company CCMI.
The BOE primary will narrow the field to six candidates, who will then go on to November’s general election.
You’ll be able to learn more about these candidates over the coming weeks and months in these pages, our website and the Community Media Center, with whom the Carroll County Times will be partnering with again this year to host a series of candidate forums for contested races. Keep an eye out for dates, times and locations for those events.
In the meantime, if you have questions you’d like us to ask specific candidates or an entire field, please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. But take the opportunity to reach out to the candidates themselves. The candidates list on the Board of Elections website includes email addresses for nearly every local candidate, and many have a Facebook page for their campaign or other social media accounts. There, you can connect with the candidates and get to know them better.
While many will be paying attention to Congressional races and governorships during the mid-term elections, remember that it is these local offices that have the greatest affect on your community — schools, infrastructure, crime, etc. Get informed about these individuals to make strong choices at the ballot box in June and November.