Today, Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer will move toward putting into place something his predecessor believed in, fought for and went to court over: the ability of the executive to appoint members to the powerful planning board.

Kramer is set to conduct public interviews from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Executive Office building with six candidates for two positions on the board. He will make his decision for the four-year positions by mid-June, an aide said.

His candidates are Democrats Barbara G. Goldman, Carol G. Henry and Merry Ellen Poole and Republicans Carol Blum, Ernest E. Harmon and John P. Hewitt.

Much of the interest in the appointees is generated by the possibility that they will change the political landscape of the board. Will there finally be a board member from the upcounty, scene of heavy development but bypassed when it comes to planning board appointments? Will the board develop factions between council and executive appointees? Will this cause an erosion in the personal and political power of the board chairman, Norman L. Christeller?

Moreover, the controversy that raged last year when then-Executive Charles W. Gilchrist vigorously lobbied the legislature for new planning powers for his office still flickers as questions have been raised and fault found by some with Kramer's selection process.

The latest mini-controversy opened when Kramer indicated that he planned not to hold public interviews for the candidates. The League of Women Voters and other groups persuaded him to make the sessions public, as the council does when it appoints planning board members. The council retains the ability to appoint three of the five board members.

Kramer's decision to release only the names, places of residence and party affiliations of the candidates prompted criticism from the county's largest citizens organization, the Montgomery County Civic Federation. Allen E. Bender, federation president, said applications for appointment to public office should be public. Kramer aide Edmond Rovner countered that much of the information, such as financial considerations, was confidential.

Twenty-five people applied for the $12,600-a-year jobs and Kramer winnowed the list to six finalists. That, too, provoked complaints. Bender questioned how that elimination worked and what standards came into play. He said his concern is that a thorough review was not made and that good candidates were passed over. He also expressed the fear that political connections might have been a prime consideration.

None of Kramer's finalists were recommended by the federation. Bender met with Kramer last week and asked him to consider some of the candidates recommended by the group. Kramer refused.

"Sid is bending over backwards to accommodate people who have anxieties about the process," Rovner said, pointing to the decision to open the interviews and to Kramer's willingness to meet with persons expressing concern, such as Bender.

Still, Rovner said with some frustration, "There is this search by some for sinister, hidden purposes . . . when there is none." The fact is, Rovner said, many of those complaining about the selection process really have a problem with the state law passed last year giving the county executive the new planning powers. "But they lost that battle," Rovner said, referring to an unsuccessful referendum brought by opponents.

Bender readily admits that civic activists do not like the law and that is a factor in their current concerns. The planning board approves or rejects development and zoning plans before they are sent to the county council and is seen by many as an important first line of contact for citizens concerned about their communities.

It is important that board members be impartial, Bender said. "When the council appoints a planning board member, there are seven people out in the open, debating and taking a vote. It is on the record . . . . When the executive makes an appointment, he sits in his office, behind closed doors. It is not open to public scrutiny."

The new members will take office July 1, replacing Republican Betty Ann Krahnke and Democrat Judith B. Heimann, highly regarded by civic activists but prohibited from being reappointed because of a new law limiting members to two consecutive terms. Remaining on the board are Democrats Christeller and Nancy M. Floreen, and Republican Richmond M. Keeney.

By law, no more than three members of the board can be of the same political party, so Kramer can select a Democrat and a Republican, or two Republicans. It is widely assumed that Kramer, a Democrat, will select one from each party.

The finalists to be interviewed today are:

Carol Blum (R): Active in county politics for almost 20 years, Blum, 44, of Gaithersburg is an aide to state Del. Michael R. Gordon (D-Gaithersburg). Blum, who holds a nursing degree and once managed a Washington law office, was until recently a member of the Chevy Chase Town Council, where she was involved in land use and zoning issues. One advantage she said she would bring to the board is her knowledge of both the downcounty and the upcounty. She said she is fair but can be strong-minded. She dismissed as naive and "even insulting" any suggestion that a board member appointed by the executive would feel particularly beholden to him.

Barbara G. Goldman (D): Goldman, 37, has worked as an aide to former Rep. Barbara Jordan of Texas, a personal assistant to a federal housing administrator and a Washington lobbyist for the cities of San Jose, Calif., and Lincoln, Neb. A Bethesda resident who runs a domestic employment service, Goldman has a master's degree in urban planning and was active in Gilchrist's 1982 reelection campaign. She says the county has done a good job managing its growth. She said she favors of progress as long as it is "feasible, rational and comfortable progress."

Ernest E. Harmon (R)): A retired physician, Harmon, 61, is a Montgomery County native who has been active in the PTA, scouting and his Silver Spring civic association as well as in local and state medical organizations. He said he is concerned about "concentrations of greater and greater densities in areas like Silver Spring and Bethesda." He pointed to the difficulty of the average individual property owner to predict the future of his own environment. He called himself a middle-of-the-road conservative with concern for traffic, parking and aesthetic matters.

Carol G. Henry (D): Henry, 45, of Olney points to her credentials as a civic activist and her involvement in and knowledge of the county planning process. She was president of the Greater Olney Civic Association from 1979 to 1983, served five years on the Olney master plan advisory committee and was on the upcounty advisory board from 1985 to early this year. She also is a former aide to council member Michael L. Gudis. Henry had been considered a shoo-in for endorsement by the civic federation but was faulted by the group because of her answer to how she would react if Kramer lobbied her. "I know it didn't make me any friends," she said, "but I said he had a right to his opinion, I would listen to him as I would listen to anyone and then make up my own mind."

John P. Hewitt (R): Hewitt, 64, of Silver Spring said he is interested in "the continued, controlled growth of Montgomery County." He is a former executive director of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission who had a 30-year career in the system before retiring in 1974. He made two unsuccessful runs for county executive and was director of the state Energy Policy Office. Active in civic affairs, he now runs his family real estate business. He scoffs at the concern by some civic groups that he would be too pro-development, noting he is a county resident interested in its future. "I know the process from ground to top," and can offer contributions and insight, he said.

Merry Ellen Poole (D): Poole, 43, says her address for the past four years -- Clarksburg -- is one of the reasons she should be placed on the board. "The attitude of the people {in the upcounty} is one of total powerlessness," she said. Because most development is upcounty, it is important that residents there have a voice, she said. An aide to Del. Gene Counihan (D-Gaithersburg), Poole was an analyst for the CIA for nine years and was field service director of Potomac Survey Research. An animal activist, Poole is also involved in civic affairs and the local party. She was an early supporter of Kramer but adds, "I am my own person, with my own ideas."