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10 candidates face off for GOP primary

The Baltimore Sun

Carroll County Republicans will be voting for three of 10 candidates for Board of Commissioners in a contested primary election Sept. 12.

The three GOP victors will run against three Democratic candidates in the general election.

Although a 2004 voter referendum called for electing five commissioners by district, a decision by the state's highest court rendered that measure moot.

Instead, commissioners will again be elected at-large in November. South Carroll residents were especially disappointed to not gain more representation in their district.

Four of the seven GOP challengers battling the three incumbent Republican commissioners hail from South Carroll.

Two challengers - Michael D. Zimmer and Douglas E. Myers - have publicly called for a sweep of the current board.

Mary Kowalski, a late-filing candidate from Westminster, has complained, "This is the most closed government in Carroll County we've ever had."

Other challengers, like GOP candidate Dave Greenwalt, have lambasted the board for excessively increasing county salaries and for legal fees the board has incurred.

Total salaries have increased by 17.6 percent under the current board, according to county data, but staff is still lower paid than their counterparts in surrounding counties.

Pay increases and a new salary step system has improved morale and retention and brought old cabinet staff back, the incumbent commissioners have said.

Though the current board has drawn criticism over inadequate conditions at South Carroll High School, the Carroll County Education Association has endorsed all three incumbents.

"They have brought a common-sense approach to administering this county, with all their efforts to try to curb the growth so that services can keep up," said Barry Potts, the association president.

The board also seems unfazed by their detractors.

"I haven't heard an original idea or single solution from any of the challengers that we haven't thought of, done or rejected in some cases," said Commissioner Dean L. Minnich after a meeting with the Union Bridge Town Council last week.

Campaign funds listed below were raised through the first pre-primary period, which ended Aug. 15. The following candidates are running for county commissioner:

Dennis E. Beard

Age: 60

Party: Democrat

Residence: Sykesville

Family: Wife, Kathy; two adult children

Occupation: retired lieutenant, Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue Services, 30 years; Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department, 1971-present

Education: graduate, Waynesboro Area Senior High School; coursework, Catonsville Community College.

Issues: "Taxpayers have the right to demand that the county commissioners treat the county's budget just as you treat your family's budget ... Our schools need to be well-maintained, safe and environmentally sound. We need to retain teachers and provide equal access to technology ... Our population growth, along with the 'graying' of Carroll County, is taxing local government and stretching our resources - particularly those of fire, EMS and police. I will provide an entire career-worth of knowledge, the ability and the passion to plan for the safety and well-being of Carroll County residents.

Web site: www.votedennis beard.com

Funds: $1,495 (self-reported)

Christopher Eric Bouchat

Age: 38

Party: Republican

Residence: Woodbine

Family: Divorced; two daughters

Occupation: aircraft welder and owner, Bouchat Industries, 12 years; Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, 2002-2004

Education: graduate, Howard High School; welding certificate, Howard Vo-Tech; coursework, Catonsville Community College and University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Issues: "Adequate funding & professional management of emergency services. Build and maintain water and sewage systems that address expanding demand ... Attract more business into our boundaries. Support the zoning and construction of regional industrial parks ... Support a referendum for independent county government."

Web site: none.

Funds: $7,360

Vincent F. DiPietro

Age: 67

Party: Democrat

Residence: Sykesville

Family: Wife, Grace; one adult daughter.

Occupation: retired engineer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 25 years; nuclear fusion hardware designer, Research Support Instruments, five years

Education: engineering coursework, University of Maryland, College Park, Johns Hopkins University

Issues: "Build additions to existing schools instead of building new schools. Teachers' pay must be comparable to other counties in Maryland ... Tax incentives for businesses and homeowners who install solar panels or windmills ... Control rampant growth; raise impact fees. State funding to widen Route 32 to four lanes and to fix the intersection with Route 26."

Web site: www.vdipietro.home stead.com

Funds: $700 (self-reported)

Julia Walsh Gouge(Incumbent)

Age: 66

Party: Republican

Residence: Hampstead

Family: Husband, Jesse; three adult children

Occupation: Carroll County commissioner, 1986-present; GOP lieutenant governor candidate, 1994; councilwoman, mayor, Hampstead Town Council

Education: graduate, North Carroll High School; coursework, Catonsville Community College, University of Maryland, University of Oklahoma.

Issues: "Managing growth through adequate facilities is a must. Reservoirs need to be pursued with state and federal agencies ... farm preservation will retain the beauty of the county and the industry of farming. We are at the half-point now: 50,000 acres preserved ... County funding to the board of education has increased by $101 million over the past four years ... Efforts to attract businesses to the county is a must. We want high-tech, modern businesses that provide good paying jobs to our citizens."

Web site: www.juliagouge.com

Funds: $9,780

Dave Greenwalt

Age: 53

Party: Republican

Residence: Eldersburg (Sykesville address)

Family: Separated; one adult daughter.

Occupation: self-employed, Ad Pro Mark, Inc.; publisher/editor, Eldersburg Eagle, 2002-2004; publisher/editor, Sykesville News, 1993-1996; publisher/editor, Mount Airy News, 1983-96 (founded all three publications)

Education: General associate's degree, Catonsville Community College.

Issues: "[Code home rule] should not be on the November ballot. The best way to ease any impasse with the legislative delegation is to set up a continuing dialogue ... Strengthening the sheriff's department before looking at a county police department ... Developing the Gillis Falls Reservoir ... I do not support a transfer tax and would like to reduce the property tax to 5 percent ... County salaries - some of them have gone up $30,000-some in four years. It's been a dramatic increase to say the least."

Web site: none.

Funds: $3,995 (through Aug. 27, self-reported)

Doug Howard

Age: 41

Party: Republican

Residence: Eldersburg (Sykesville address)

Family: Wife, Bette; six children.

Occupation: owner, BDG Entrepreneurial Services; founder, Start-Up Carroll (free services for small business development)

Education: bachelor's degree in business; Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania.

Issues: "Supporting good commercial development to take the burden off the individual taxpayer. I want to establish the goal of achieving a 15 percent commercial-industrial base in 10 years ... Have the best teachers in the classrooms we can afford to have. The commissioners and the Board of Education need to work together throughout the budgeting process. Then it would be very easy for everyone to be accountable. I've been dealing with budget planning for years."

Web site: www.DougHowardfor Carroll.com

Funds: $9,800

Perry L. Jones Jr.(Incumbent)

Age: 54

Party: Republican

Residence: Union Bridge

Family: Divorced; 1 adult son

Occupation: Carroll County commissioner, elected 2002; mayor, Union Bridge, 1991-2002; Union Bridge Town Council, 1980-1991; mechanic and owner, Tuck's Service Station, 41 years; Union Bridge Vol. Fire Company

Education: Graduate, Linganore High School.

Issues: "Growth management ... strengthen county and state law enforcement ... promote responsible education planning."

Web site: none

Funds: $4,650 (through January)

Mary Kowalski(Republican)

Age: 45

Party: Republican

Residence: Westminster

Family: Not married; one daughter

Occupation: kindergarten paraprofessional, William Winchester Elementary, one year; special ed; assistant, Spring Garden Elementary, one year; substitute teacher, Carroll County Public Schools, 2000-2004

Education: bachelor's degree in psychology, Old Dominion University; master's degree in education, McDaniel College

Issues: "I would oppose high-density housing and focus instead on meeting the needs of the hard-working families we have here now ... I would work closely with all branches of law enforcement ... I am adamantly opposed to the enactment of a transfer tax ... I would absolutely vote 'no' to a larger [Carroll County] airport."

Web site: none

Funds: none reported

Dean L. Minnich(Incumbent)

Age: 64

Party: Republican

Residence: Westminster

Family: Wife, Patricia; two adult sons

Occupation: Carroll County commissioner, since 2002; newspaper reporter, editor and columnist, Baltimore News American, Hanover Evening Sun and Carroll County Times, 1963-2002

Education: graduate, North Carroll High School; coursework; University of Baltimore and United States Armed Forces Institute

Issues: "Institutionalization of the planned growth policies developed over the past three years. Continue to work with the towns and the council of governments, and the state and feds, to develop surface water reservoirs and address the need for smart growth around towns ... Finding common ground where needs and wants are met while holding the line on the tax rate ... The county government should run the county's day-to-day operations ... Continuation of open processes."

Web site: www.deanminnich.com/commissioner

Funds: $10,800

Wade E. Miracle

Age: 36

Party: Republican

Residence: Manchester

Family: Wife, Connie; two children

Occupation: emergency medical technician, Hampstead Fire Department, since 2004; board of directors, Manchester Volunteer Fire Department, since 2001.

Education: Graduate, Perry Hall High School.

Issues: "Schools over population ... school teacher retention ... emergency services growth in the county."

Web site: none

Funds: none

Douglas E. Myers

Age: 49

Party: Republican

Residence: Manchester

Family: Wife, Sue; two adult children

Occupation: government engineer/water and wastewater operator, 27 years; director of public works, Carroll County, 2000-2005 (resigned); Manchester Town Council, mid-1990s; Manchester Volunteer Fire Department

Education: bachelor's degree in civil engineering, Johns Hopkins University

Issues: "Growth management, effective and efficient government, and employee morale ... Oppose code home rule. Oppose a transfer tax. Oppose airport expansion. Support agricultural land preservation ... The day I left Carroll County government was the day I decided to run as county commissioner."

Web site: none

Funds: $2,800 (self-reported)

Richard F. Solomon

Age: 53

Party: Democrat

Residence: Sykesville

Family: Wife, Nadine; two children.

Occupation: business development planner, First Data Corp., 10 years; volunteer, Montgomery County Emergency Response Team

Education: bachelor's degree in business, George Mason University

Issues: "I'd like to drag seniors into the schools, to develop programs that integrate them and kids. Expand school library programs ... Expand volunteer search and rescue emergency services. I understand how the plans are supposed to work. I also see the shortcomings in practice ... Preservation of the natural and cultural resources of the county."

Web site: none

Funds: not active fundraising

Michael D. Zimmer

Age: 42

Party: Republican

Residence: Eldersburg (Sykesville address)

Family: Wife, Cherie; two daughters

Occupation: attorney, in Carroll County since 1989; Carroll County Republican Central Committee, 2003-06

Education: bachelor's degree in political science, University of Georgia; law degree, University of Maryland School of Law

Issues: "The incumbent commissioners have established tax-and-spend liberalism. I favor lowering the cap on owner-occupied assessments to 5 percent. I oppose a transfer tax ... Retain and attract the best teachers. Expand our public-private partnerships ... The current board has failed to reach out to other elected officials in a meaningful way. They have hired staff to act as a buffer with our General Assembly delegation.

Web site: www.voteforzimmer.org

Funds: $7,438 laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

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