Takoma Park citizens laid the groundwork for their biennial elections at a citywide caucus called to nominate candidates for the mayor's job and seven City Council seats.
Approximately 250 residents attended the recent caucus.
Seeking the job of mayor are Sammi Abbott, a graphics artist who ran unsuccessfully for the office in 1978; Joseph Faulkner, an engineer who now serves on the council, and Ronald Wylie, an attorney.
The election is scheduled for March 25.
The city charter required that a candidate be nominated by a registered voter and seconded by at least two others. Candidates are not allowed to speak, so they must rely on their supporters to pour on the accolades.
And this the nominators did with relish.
Roland Halstead Jr., the first speaker, spoke so enthusiastically about Wylie that Takoma Park city administrator Hebert Gilsdorf, who chaired the meeting, finally said, "Why don't you save a little of this for the campaign?" m
Faulkner's backers praised everything from his quiet manner to his four children. And 17 people spoke in support of Abbott, far more than the three required by city law.
Style seems to be as much an issue in this election as political platform. Nominators praised Faulkner's behind-the-scenes method of dealing with problems, while those supporting Abbott called his feistiness a boon to the job.
"I trust Sam Abbott," said Karen Maury. "Some say he's obnoxious, which he is sometimes. He's not a placater."
Abbott has frequently attacked the present council, claiming that it conducts business without the knowledge of the citizens.City Council meetings, which are open to public participation, often result in Abbott and retiring Mayor John Roth leveling criticisms at one another.
Wylie has said that he is running as an alternative to both Abbott and Faulkner.
"Mr. Wylie is a capable individual and a responsible leader," said Sonia Jarl, who spoke in his favor at the caucus. "I've known him for 13 years."
Wylie has lived in Takoma Park for the past two years. Before that time, he was active with such local institutions as the Washington Adventist Hospital and Columbia Union College.
His detractors, however, said last week that they felt Wylie lacked experience.
All three candidates favor strengthening the city's zoning enforcement power and improving its quality of life.
Abbott has also called for placing Takoma Park under the jurisdiction of only one county. About two-thirds of the city now lies in Montgomery County; the rest is in Prince George's.
Both Wylie and Abbott favor the end of the present system of voting for the City Council. A charter amendment will be placed on this month's ballot calling for the election of council members by ward, rather than by the at-large system that now exists.
Although council candidates are nominated on the basis of the wards in which they reside, they are elected by voters throughout the city. Critics claim the present system perpetuates a city-wide slate that is impervious to opposition from independent candidates.
Faulkner and seven council candidates are running as members of Citizens for Sound Government. Both Abbott and Wylie are running as independents.
Only one of the seven council seats is being challenged. Donald Ramsey, an accountant, is running against incumbent Clayton Forshee from the city's Fifth Ward.
Ramsey also ran against Forshee, a member of Citizens for Sound Government, in 1978.
"I think I have a better chance now," he said. "I'm counting on people who want change in Takoma Park, people who would support either Wylie or Abbott to vote for me. Though I don't endorse either one, we're all running against the slate."
Other nominees, who face no opposition, are Frank Garcia, James Holland, Norman Patrick III, Vernon Ricks Jr., Jennifer Saloma and David Weisman. All but Holland and Patrick members of the council.