The death of Anne Arundel County Council member Cliff R. Roop, who suffered a heart attack during a council meeting Monday night, will leave his council colleagues with little time to mourn before they must begin searching for a successor.
According to the county charter, council members must choose a successor within 30 days, and they want to leave themselves enough time to conduct interviews in public with candidates who submit applications. By law, Roop's successor must be a Republican and must have lived for at least a year in the 5th District, which encompasses the Broadneck Peninsula.
Roop, 45, was starting his second year in office when he suffered a massive heart attack Monday night. He left the council chamber and collapsed in an office behind the chamber. He died later at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis.
By mid-afternoon yesterday, the council office had received about eight inquiries about the seat. Some of Roop's opponents in the 1998 GOP primary also received calls encouraging them to seek the position, and Roop's former campaign manager was among those mentioned as a potential replacement.
Roop, of Arnold, was one of two Republicans on the seven-member board. He was regarded as a common-sense politician with traditional Republican ideals. "He was a family man, a businessman, a resident first and a politician second," said his legislative assistant, Pam Scarbro, who was with him when he collapsed and who administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived.
Council Chairman Daniel E. Klosterman (D-Glen Burnie) said that no potential candidates had contacted him personally but that he knew of several names being mentioned. "It's the political reality," he said. "I know it sounds cold, but that's what happens."
Among the names Klosterman has heard is Ted Janssen, a Severna Park consultant who was Roop's campaign manager and then his legislative assistant for the first several months of his term. Janssen said that "in deference to my dear friend," he would not comment on whether he would seek the council spot. "We'll see what happens."
Cathleen M. Vitale, a Severna Park lawyer and chairman of the Anne Arundel County Republican State Central Committee, ran against Roop in the 1998 primary. She said yesterday that supporters had called, urging her to run for the seat, but she declined to address the question now.
"I really don't think this is the time," she said. "I really have tried to focus on his two daughters and his family, because they're who need us right now."
Lawrence Masterson, a retired National Security Agency executive and another of Roop's primary opponents, said he was thinking about the seat after getting calls from friends and supporters. "I haven't done anything. I just think it would be inappropriate," he said.