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Clinton delegate aims to expand Democratic presence Cross plans to rebuild party, one club at a time


A Carroll delegate to this summer's Democratic National Convention is organizing a new Democratic club in Eldersburg and plans to help start another one later this year in Mount Airy.

Eldersburg resident Gail Reilly Cross, who was elected as a delegate for Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton to the convention in New York, said she wants to strengthen the party's influence in the county, make meetings more accessible and increase involvement.

"We need to get back to having more people participate in the party. It's kind of dwindled over the years," said Cross, 49, a paralegal and former president of the Carroll County Democratic Club and the South Carroll Democratic Club, which folded several years ago because of lack of interest.

"When things start getting a little rough, people want more voice in their government," she said. "Things are happening that we don't like from top to bottom. When you can voice concern through a group, it's better than standing up by yourself."

The new club will have a dinner meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Morty's on Route 32, near Route 26. Members will choose the club's priorities, said Cross.

Another member, Eldersburg resident Philip Deitchman, said South Carroll should have its own Democratic club to monitor problems and concerns specific to the region, such as water and sewer capacity and rates and school overcrowding.

The Carroll Democratic Club draws members from across the county and meets monthly in Westminster, while the North Carroll Democratic Club convenes four times a year.

"Each club can be more concerned about its own sector," said Deitchman, 34, treasurer of the Carroll Democratic Club.

The club will work to register and educate voters and to elect Democrats at the county, state and federal levels, said the organizers. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in Carroll, 27,680 to 25,525. The county has four main Republican clubs.

Deitchman said his goal is to elect Democratic state Del. Thomas Hattery to Congress in Maryland's 6th District.

The club also would become active in the current non-partisan drive to replace the county's commissioner form of government with charter government, if members express interest, they said.

Once the Eldersburg club is launched, Cross said, she would try to organize Mount Airy Democrats. If that effort succeeds, she might try to start small clubs in other areas of the county in which Democrats have no outlet.

"Involvement in politics is important to me," said Cross, a county Orphan's Court judge from 1982 to 1986 who also ran for register of wills in 1990.

"We've got so much apathy, not just here, but everywhere. When the majority stays home for an election, that's not good. Politicians think they can do whatever they want because people aren't voting."

For information, call Cross at 795-6066.

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