The Calvert County Democratic Central Committee will choose from among six candidates seeking to replace former state delegate George W. Owings III after a public forum this evening.

The candidates who submitted applications to the Central Committee by last week's deadline are:

* William Johnston III, a Huntingtown resident who has run for political office a number of times, including a bid for Calvert County commissioner.

* Sue Kullen of Port Republic, a consultant who works with disabled people and agencies serving them. She also served 10 years as an appointee of the governor on the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

* Hagner R. Mister of Prince Frederick, a former state agriculture secretary and a former county commissioner.

* Thomas M. Pelagatti, a Prince Frederick lawyer who is a former judge of the Orphans' Court in Calvert County.

* Barbara A. Stinnett, a former county commissioner from Owings.

* David Van Hoy, a real estate professional from Huntingtown.

Stinnett, discussed by local political observers as a prospective candidate in the months since Owings resigned from the District 27B seat, did not decide to seek the office until the filing deadline neared.

"A woman's place is in the House -- that's the old saying," Stinnett said in an interview.

The local Central Committee is legally required to inform Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) of its nomination by Wednesday, a month after Owings's resignation took effect. Owings gave up the legislative post after Ehrlich appointed him in March to be director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs. The governor has indicated he will accept the Central Committee's selection for the House of Delegates vacancy.

Today's forum, to be moderated by county Commissioner Wilson H. Parran (D-At Large), is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Prince Frederick firehouse, committee Chairwoman Doris Spencer said.

The public will be allowed to observe the proceedings but not ask questions, Spencer said. The 10 members of the Central Committee will go into a closed session to discuss the nomination, then vote publicly for the candidate of their choosing, Spencer said.

"The voice vote has to be in front of the public," Spencer said.

There also will be a determination on whether the Central Committee forwards more than one name to the governor.

"It depends on the vote," Spencer said. "If there's a majority, then only one. If there isn't, then of course there'll be more than one."

She expressed her preference for a single nominee: "Hopefully we will have one, but I'm not sure where everyone is at this point. We'll just have to wait and see."

As a Central Committee member, Mister will be allowed to vote for himself. Spencer previously said the majority of the Central Committee, in "a split vote," decided that Mister should be able to participate in naming Owings's successor, even if he became a candidate.

The process to replace Owings has been similar to that used when Patrick M. Buehler (D) stepped down from the Board of County Commissioners in 2000. After a public meeting, the Democratic Central Committee sent two names to then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), who appointed one of the nominees, Robert L. Swann. Swann did not run for election in 2002.

Democrats have said they want Owings's replacement to be a strong candidate to retain the House of Delegates seat in the 2006 election, when formidable Republican opposition is expected.

The district covers northern Calvert County.