Governor unseats five-member state board of elections

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday replaced the entire state elections board, some of whose members have spotlighted irregularities in the election that brought him into office.

"The governor was not pleased with the actions of the previous board, which spent a great deal of time, effort and taxpayer dollars on petty feuding and frivolous lawsuits," said Dianna D. Rosborough, his press secretary.

The action drew immediate and sharp criticism from Republican Party leaders.

"This amazes me to no end. This is politics. He wants a board he can control," said Joyce Lyons Terhes, chairwoman of the Maryland Republican Party.

The five-member board has been marked by controversy and contentiousness since Mr. Glendening's narrow victory over Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey in November.

Most recently, it tried to get the Baltimore elections board to purge rolls of inactive voters even though a new law made such a move illegal.

The terms of all previous members expired yesterday.

Mr. Glendening, a Democrat, drew heavily from the legal profession in choosing the new board, which will supervise elections and voter registration in Maryland.

New Democratic board members are former Prince George's County State's Attorney Toni E. Clarke; former state legislator Helen L. Koss of Montgomery County; and former Washington County prosecutor David K. Poole Jr., father of state Del. D. Bruce Poole.

The two Republican members are former federal prosecutor Andrew Radding of Pikesville and paralegal Linda B. Pierson, an outgoing member of the Baltimore elections board.

Ms. Terhes particularly criticized Mr. Glendening for his failure to ask the GOP to recommend people for its two seats on the board. "Does he have the courtesy to call me and ask who I would like?" she asked. "No."

She said she wrote the governor in April urging the reappointment of Republican members Barbara B. Kendall and Daniel J. Earnshaw.

Mr. Earnshaw, an attorney in Edgewood, was the most vociferous critic of the 1994 election that brought Mr. Glendening into power.

"My opinion is the election was fraudulent and people need to be prosecuted and a new election needs to be held," he said yesterday.

Mrs. Sauerbrey made several claims of fraud in a lawsuit after the election, but she did not persuade a judge.

Yesterday she accused Mr. Glendening of refusing to reappoint board members in order to cover up his desire to get rid of Mr. Earnshaw and Margarette E. Crowder, a Democratic member.

That's not true, said Ms. Rosborough. "The governor felt like we needed a fresh new start, a new effort and a new focus so that we can move forward," she said.

The governor said the new board will try to strengthen the absentee ballot process and adopt uniform training procedures for elections -- weaknesses uncovered by Mrs. Sauerbrey's supporters.

"We have an election in Baltimore City later this year and a presidential election in 1996. So it is essential that they move quickly," the governor said in a prepared statement.

His board selections drew immediate praise from former Gov. Harry R. Hughes, a fellow Democrat. "It's probably the best board that we have had," Mr. Hughes said.

Mrs. Sauerbrey said yesterday she did not know Mr. Radding, one of the two Republicans, even though they both live in Baltimore County.

Mr. Radding, 50, a principal partner in the law firm of Blades & Rosenfeld, said, "I'm not active in the Republican Party at all, but I've been active periodically in campaigns."

He worked on the unsuccessful campaign of Republican Richard D. Bennett for Maryland attorney general last year, he said.

He also worked in the same law firm at one time with John T. Willis, Maryland secretary of state and a Glendening adviser.

The board members' four-year terms begin immediately, although they must be confirmed by the state Senate when it meets again next year.

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