Residents who enjoy a good ol' political dogfight might be disappointed to learn that Cheryl Kagan, a former member of the House of Delegates, has decided not to challenge incumbent state Sen. Jennie M. Forehand in next year's Democratic primary.

But it's pretty clear Kagan and Forehand will remain rivals at best and political enemies at worst.

For months, Kagan has been exploring a run against Forehand, who was bracing for her most serious challenge in years. Forehand, 68, has represented District 17 in the state Senate since 1995.

Before that, Forehand represented District 17 -- which includes parts of Rockville and Gaithersburg -- in the House of Delegates for 16 years.

Kagan, who represented the district in the House from 1995 to 2003, had been preparing a campaign based on the argument that Forehand was ineffective and had been in office too long.

Forehand in turn charged that Kagan, 43, was planning to use age as a wedge issue in the race.

But Kagan, executive director of the Carl M. Freeman Foundation, announced Tuesday she is dropping her exploratory campaign to remain focused on her job.

"My life is very full right now with community service," said Kagan, who also serves on the board of directors of several community organizations. "I knew I would win the race, but the challenge for me was to find the hours to talk to voters, so I ultimately chose volunteer service over another campaign."

Forehand said she is "not surprised" Kagan decided not to run.

"I think it would have been hard to run a campaign when there was no difference on major issues," Forehand said, adding "maybe her polls told her something."

Forehand also took a subtle swipe at Kagan's reasons for shying away form the race.

"I think that serving in the legislature is community service," Forehand said. "I see it as public service, and politics to me is not a game."

Forehand isn't in the clear yet, however. Kagan said she plans to support Forehand's opponent for the Democratic nomination, if anyone else decides to challenge her.

"If someone else runs, I would absolutely support him or her," Kagan said, adding District 17 residents are "yearning for more effective and energetic leadership in Annapolis."

Forehand's response: "Bring it on."

Presley Mulls Council Run

Amy Presley, the leader of a group of Clarksburg residents who exposed lapses in the county's planning process, continues to be courted to run against County Council member Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty) in next year's elections.

Presley, a Republican, is the leader of the Clarksburg Town Center Advisory Committee, which has been doggedly investigating how the community has been built.

In recent weeks, union, civic and Republican leaders have met with Presley to gauge if she was interested in running against Knapp.

"I keep telling them the same thing: I have not made any decision," Presley said. "I still have not said no, but I am not coming out saying I am running for anything."

Presley notes it's not just the political chattering class that's encouraging her to run. Last week, she said, several people approached her at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Clarksburg.

"People are coming out of the woodwork saying: 'Will you please run. Will you represent us?' " Presley said.

But don't expect Presley to make up her mind up anytime soon.

For now, she remains focused on negotiating with the developer of Clarksburg Town Center, Newland Communities, to make sure the community is built according to initial plans. Presley also plans to monitor the County Council's efforts to the reform the planning process.

And because she is Republican, Presley says she "has more time" to make up her mind about a council race because she might not have to worry about a competitive primary.

Veto Petition Forwarded

The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee has waded into the brewing debate over whether the General Assembly will override any of Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s vetoes from this year's legislative session.

On Sunday, local party leaders presented a petition to Del. Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery), the House majority leader, urging the General Assembly to override the vetoes of seven bills when it goes back into session next month.

The bills include legislation to increase the minimum wage, require large businesses to provide health care benefits, restructure the Maryland Commission for Women, reform voting procedures, mandate that the state purchase more environmentally friendly projects and extend rights to unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians.

"The governor's vetoes show that he is out of step, far to the right of most Marylanders," the petition read. "We look forward to seeing you lead the fight to override every veto that is contrary to democratic values. "

Shareese DeLeaver, an Ehrlich spokeswoman, did not return calls seeking comment earlier this week.

A 'Snyder Law'?

Washington Redskins owner and Potomac resident Daniel M. Snyder continues to be the butt of jokes among elected officials.

On Tuesday, the County Council unanimously approved a bill to dramatically increase the fines for violating the county's forest conservation law.

Under the current law, violators can be fined up to $1 per square foot of deforested land. The legislation approved this week increases possible fines to as much as $9 per square foot of deforested land if the violation was deliberate.

The change was in response to Snyder's removal of 55,000 square feet of forest on an easement he owns next to the C&O Canal without the approval of the planning board.

Before the vote, council member Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) said she considered attaching an amendment to the bill allowing the county "to revoke the NFL license of anyone who violates the forest conservation law."

Later in the debate, George L. Leventhal (D-At Large), who was elected council president Tuesday, said he was prepared to come out swinging against Snyder. But he changed his mind on Sunday, after the Redskins defeated the St. Louis Rams.

"I am much more relaxed and benign and not sure I feel as aggressive," Leventhal quipped.