Calvert Republicans are seeking to retain their majority on the county Board of Commissioners in Tuesday's general election, despite the primary loss of one of the three GOP members seeking reelection.
With the ouster of John Douglas Parran (R-At Large), only three incumbents -- President David Hale (R-Owings), Linda L. Kelley (R-Owings) and Barbara A. Stinnett (D-At Large) -- will be on the ballot.
Four years ago, the Republicans were the underdogs who took control of the Calvert Board of Commissioners for the first time in decades.
In Calvert's commissioner elections, all candidates are voted on at large, but at least one commissioner must be from each of the three election districts. The highest vote getter in each district wins a seat; of the remaining candidates, the two receiving the most votes are elected to serve at large.
In the Democratic primary, Grace Mary Brady, chairman of the party's county central committee, won in District 1; Thomas Michael Pelagatti, a lawyer, won District 2; Wilson H. Parran, a former county and state school board member and the party's overall top vote-getter, won in District 3. The party's other two candidates are Stinnett and Eugene "Gene" Karol, former county superintendent of schools.
In the Republican primary, Jerry Clark, a Solomons-based businessman, won in District 1; Susan Shaw, a psychotherapist, won in District 2; and Hale won in District 3. The party's other two candidates are Kelley and Roger R. Tracy, the former chairman of the GOP's county central committee.
District 1, in southern Calvert, will be the only one without an incumbent running. Retiring Commissioner Robert L. "Bobby" Swann (D-Solomons) was from the district, as was John Douglas Parran.
Perhaps the most hotly contested race is in District 3 in northern Calvert, where each party's top vote getter -- Republican Hale and Democrat Wilson H. Parran -- reside. Hale is touting the current board's record on issues such as growth management, full school funding and no tax increases. Parran brings years of experience on state and local school boards and support from key Democrats.
The District 3 lineup also includes Stinnett, who was the second leading vote-getter for the Democrats in the primary. She has been elected twice as a commissioner, and her chances could be even stronger on Tuesday because she has reconciled with a local Democratic faction that did not support her in 1998.
In District 2, the field is Republicans Kelley, Shaw and Tracy against Democrats Pelagatti and Karol. Kelley has been elected twice to the board, and served as president for two years during her current term. Political observers attributed Shaw's strong showing in the primary to determined campaigning since she lost her 1998 bid for commissioner. Tracy, who runs a TV repair business, also is known in Calvert for his work as GOP central committee chairman. Pelagatti was the top fundraiser among commissioner candidates at the end of the last reporting period, though opponents have noted that much of the money listed was his own.
The Republicans -- in particular, Hale and Kelley -- point to the current board's record since 1998. They cite the board's consistent full funding for the Board of Education budget -- and continued support for building schools in fast-growing Calvert -- while not raising taxes.
"With the Republican majority board, we've accomplished great things," Hale said.
"The secrets out. . . . Calvert County is a place that people want to come and live," he said. "We need to protect the county so it doesn't become like the places that people are leaving."
Kelley said, "The primary issue continues to be growth in the county, because growth drives everything else. Growth drives the budget . . . the demand for services.
"Growth requires more recreational facilities, more services for seniors," she said. "So everything that has to do with growth has a negative budget impact."
Meanwhile, Democrats say voters should return them to the long-standing majority on the Board of Commissioners that they say is behind the quality of life in Calvert.
"The Republican-controlled board inherited a surplus -- a budget surplus -- and an educational system that was second in the state, all thanks to the" Democrat-controled boards, Brady said.