Frazier unruffled by loss in commissioner primary


The morning after she lost her bid for re-election to the board of county commissioners, Robin Bartlett Frazier stood proudly on the steps of the County Office Building and participated in a ceremony honoring the victims of Sept. 11.

She delivered an inspirational reading filled with religious references she found appropriate to the event. Afterward, she graciously accepted hugs and condolences from county employees and other supporters.

But, she did not linger. She had a full day of work planned in her office.

"I am commissioner until December and there are many projects I want to complete," she said in an interview Wednesday. "I will try to make sure nothing falls through the cracks."

Frazier, a 42-year-old mother of three from Manchester who is a former loan officer, said she plans no second-guessing of her campaign - even though she finished sixth in a field of 10 candidates. She was one of two conservative commissioners to lose, as voters chose moderate candidates.

"I am not going to analyze this election - that is not important," she said. "I am at peace with this. It was hard work, but everybody worked hard and someone is going to win and someone is going to lose."

At the Republican gathering Tuesday in Westminster, when the tally showed she trailed eventual winners Dean Minnich, incumbent Julia Walsh Gouge and Perry Jones by more than 2,000 votes, Frazier kept her composure.

"All through the evening, several candidates shed tears, but not Robin," said Del. Carmen Amedori, a Westminster Republican. "She means it when she says that she is at peace."

Amedori, who was unopposed in the primary, said Republican conservatives - the backbone of Frazier's support - must have stayed home Tuesday.

"If the core conservative base had turned out, Robin would not have lost," Amedori said.

Robert Wolfing, chairman of the county Republican Central Committee, said, "Conservatives are alive and well in Carroll County. Frazier is a decent, honest person but voters decided they wanted a change at her level of office. Her political career in this county is not over."

Frazier was a member of the county planning commission four years ago when several key Republicans urged her to run for commissioner.

"I wanted to support good conservative candidates but I never thought I'd be one," she said. "I think that it was miraculous that I won the first time."

The job she expected to be part time became all-consuming. Frazier spent hours studying issues so she could catch up with her two colleagues, who had years of elective experience.

Frazier, who sings in the choir at Westminster's Church of the Open Door, promoted character education for county employees. In 2000, she advocated banning recreation at county fields before 12:30 p.m. on Sundays because she believed such activities might draw people away from church services, but the restriction was quickly rescinded.

She says voters wrongly blamed her for development approved in the 1990s when the county averaged 2,000 lots a year. That number is down to about 600, but houses are still springing up on those lots from the previous building boom.

"The portrayal of me being for growth and pushing growth is false," she said. "The growth we are seeing today started years before I got here."

Frazier's stance on a water treatment plant for Piney Run Lake in Sykesville may also have hurt her chances, particularly in South Carroll, where residents stridently oppose the $16 million project. Many fear a second water plant in the area would lead to more development.

"To say the new plant is for new growth is not accurate," Frazier said. "It would provide for peak use and for the industry that is coming to South Carroll. There is the possibility that this hurt my chances."

All three Republican nominees oppose the project.

"Piney Run is perhaps the classic political tragedy," said Neil Ridgely, a Democratic nominee for commissioner. "It certainly is a lesson on how to exclude people from government and how to rush to a decision. Frazier and Dell tried to run roughshod over the state and they did run roughshod over residents. It will take the next board a long time to restore confidence in government."

One element of political office that Frazier won't miss is the press, she said.

"The press does a disservice to citizens by stirring up trouble where it doesn't exist," she said. "I have seen issues misrepresented for the last three years. Who knows what effect that has had?"

As for the commissioner race in November, she leveled one criticism at the Republican slate of moderates. "I think whoever gets in, you will have a Democrat on this board," she said.

She is not ruling public office out of her future. But her husband, Donald, is studying for the ministry and hopes to lead a nondenominational Christian church in the future, meaning the family may have to move. Her immediate plans include spending more time with her daughters, ages 7, 12 and 14.

"I am willing to serve, but this job does not define who I am," she said. "It has been the highlight of my life to serve my community. It has been a sacrifice, but one that I wanted to make for my community."

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