Middlebrooks elected chairman of council


Late last week, C. Edward Middlebrooks was a beleaguered swing vote in a battle between two candidates for chairman of the County Council. He was hounded by fellow Democrats who warned him not to dare vote for Republican Carl G. "Dutch" Holland.

The contenders, Mr. Holland and current Council Chairman David G. Boschert, each had three votes in the seven-member council.

Last night, Mr. Middlebrooks went from swing vote to top vote-getter. In a surprise move, after being nominated by Mr. Middlebrooks for a third-term as chairman, Mr. Boschert withdrew his name, citing a need to concentrate on his business interests.

Mr. Boschert then nominated Mr. Middlebrooks, who was elected chairman by a 5-2 vote. His one-year term started last night. The council's two Republicans -- Diane Evans and Mr. Holland -- voted against him.

Before withdrawing, Mr. Boschert, who recently opened a Heritage Harbour liquor store, said he felt he could not devote the time "needed to fulfil the responsibilities as chairman of this body."

He recited several accomplishments during his two years as chairman, including lowering the property tax rate by eight cents this year. "But as for me, I really feel the time has come for me to step aside and focus on my business," he said. "I really feel now is the time to create a new generation of leadership on this council."

And Mr. Boschert said Mr. Middlebrooks has what it takes to lead the council.

"He has the tenacity, he has the drive," he said.

Mr. Middlebrooks, a lawyer with a practice in Glen Burnie, was elected to the council in 1990.

He faces a stiff primary battle for re-election next year against James "Ed" DeGrange, a Glen Burnie businessman who is backed by state Sen. Michael Wagner, D-32nd.

Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, who along with Mr. Boschert and Councilwoman Virginia Clagett must leave the council next year because of term limits, was elected council vice chair.

A bill was passed last year limiting council members to two consecutive four-year terms.

"I feel there is no greater honor than to leave with leadership under your belt," Mr. Boschert said before nominating Ms. Lamb.

"Putting Maureen Lamb in a leadership position on this council is long overdue," said Ms. Clagett, herself a former council chairperson.

In other business, the council failed to override County Executive Robert R. Neall's veto of a bill that created a special benefits district in Cedarhurst-on-the-Bay in south county. Mr. Neall vetoed the bill creating the tax district and another one in Rugby Hills Estates in Arnold because they did not meet federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

The council did not vote to override the veto of the Rugby Hills Estates district legislation at the request of Ms. Evans, who said residents there wanted more time to correct deficiencies.

County officials have inspected both sites and identified necessary repairs.

After arrangements have been made by residents to begin modifications, which include installing ramps for easier wheelchair access and remodeling some facilities, like bathrooms, new bills will be submitted to create the tax districts.

County officials will evaluate the county's 42 existing special community benefit districts in coming months.

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