An unopposed Columbia Council incumbent who abruptly withdrew from his re-election race Monday -- suggesting that "maybe I'm part of the problem" -- has changed his mind and is running again.
Vince Marando, a first-term council representative from Wilde Lake village, submitted a letter Monday night to the election committee chairwoman, saying he would not be a candidate in the village election April 15.
Yesterday afternoon, Marando asked the election chairwoman, Janet Blumenthal, to rescind his letter.
"I submitted a letter. I asked to take it back," Marando said yesterday. "I'm trying to do what's best for me and my family and the community. I wish I were clear. I'm too old to be a politician."
The unusual turn of events in Wilde Lake -- Columbia's oldest village -- comes less than two weeks before residents in five villages will elect representatives to the 10-member council. Forming the backdrop of the elections is the recent controversy over the leadership and performance of Columbia Association President Deborah O. McCarty, who succeeded Padraic M. Kennedy in August 1998.
Three council members have called for McCarty to resign.
In an interview yesterday before he re-entered the race, Marando said he had withdrawn because he questioned whether "I was making a contribution I thought I could make."
"I'm representing the community, and I'm saying, 'Maybe I'm part of the problem,' " he explained.
Marando also said he faced a dilemma about the president. In an executive session March 2, Marando abstained from a vote to support McCarty's presidency because of questions he had about her leadership. In a later vote, Marando opposed dismissing her because of questions over whether the process had been "fair" and whether she had the proper "tools" and "support" to do her job.
He said he would rather "fire myself than jump on, [or] either fire someone else for reasons that I couldn't accept."
"I think it's easier to bring her down," Marando said. "I tell you, that would have been kid's play. I tell you, that wouldn't have been right. I wouldn't have been able to sleep at night."
Marando, a government professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, announced last month that his re-election campaign would focus on "leadership issues" involving not just the president but the council as well. He maintains that the association is structurally flawed, making the council ineffective in deciding policy.
"I think there are structural defects here that are so significant that the board itself can't do its job right," he said.
Because Marando is the only council candidate on the Wilde Lake ballot, his abrupt withdrawal Monday prompted village officials to scramble to research the procedure for putting a successor in place.
Write-in candidates would not have been allowed, said Bernice Kish, the village manager.
"We're all delighted that he's back," Kish said. "We're delighted that he's going to serve another year."