Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Slow Growth Dunbar

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, October 3, 2006

From the Merdon Campaign 

Ellicott City, Md., October 2, 2006 – Harry Dunbar, former Howard County Executive candidate and slow growth champion, today announced his endorsement of Councilman Christopher J. Merdon as Howard County Executive. In addition, Councilman Merdon unveiled his five point plan for responsible growth in Howard County.

After receiving 22% of the vote, or 5,398 votes, in the Democrat primary election, Harry Dunbar has decided to back Councilman Merdon’s candidacy for County Executive. “I have assessed the candidates remaining in the race and I wholeheartedly believe that a vote for Chris Merdon is the only vote for responsible growth,” said Dunbar. “I accept Mr. Dunbar’s endorsement and look forward to working in a bi-partisan manner to control growth,” said Merdon. Merdon has appointed Dunbar to his campaign steering committee to provide additional input on how to best manage growth.

From the Baltimore Examiner

Slow Growth Advocate Backs GOP’s Merdon

Harry Dunbar, former Democratic candidate for Howard County executive who ran with a message of slowing growth, has endorsed Republican candidate Christopher Merdon.

“Merdon is the only candidate who has acknowledged the need for responsible slow-growth measures,” said Dunbar, who campaigned to control development and reduce school crowding.

Dunbar said he supported Merdon’s voting record on growth, specifically his vote against Comp Lite, a controversial bill that included dozens of zoning changes.

“He voted with the citizens, against the developers,” Dunbar said. “[Council Member Kenneth] Ulman voted for the developers.”

Merdon has a video posted on the web site.  In it a reporter asks a question along the lines of Mr. Dunbar being critical of Ulman and Merdon accepting campaign contributions from developers and whether his concerns about that had been answered.  Dunbar replied:

“Of the candidates available to us Chris Merdon is the best candidate for slow growth, the best candidate for Howard County at this particular point in time.  I have taken my time coming to this decision.  I have been on the campaign trail with all of the candidates for Howard County Executive.  I have listened to them.  Mr. Merdon is the best candidate that will represent my interests as well as those people who supported the slow growth movement.”

Not a ringing endorsement, but none the less an endorsement by a former Democratic candidate for Howard County Executive who performed very well in the Democratic Primary against Ken Ulman.

Ken Ulman’s response?

Ulman said he knew Dunbar would support his opponent.

“We all knew what was happening with [Dunbar’s] candidacy from day one,” adding that Dunbar worked for Merdon four years ago.

Mr. Ulman seems to imply that from “day one” Mr. Dunbar’s campaign was a farce.  Well, if Mr. Ulman was hoping to keep Mr. Dunbar’s 5,400 votes in his column for the General Election I think he just insulted their intelligence and intentions.

In 2002 Jim Robey won the election by over 14,000 votes.  If one were to remove those 5,400 votes from the Ulman column to the Merdon column the differential would only be 4,000 votes in favor of the Democratic candidate.  Remember, Robey ran as an incumbent.

I would think that Mr. Ulman would be a little more thoughtful in his response given he “knew what was happening”.  Perhaps a more measured response would have been in order such as… “I am proud of my record on development.  As we reach out to Mr. Dunbar’s supporters I think we will make our message clearer and earn their support.”

Perhaps when the Sun and the Times report on the content of Merdon’s proposals:

  • Solution One – Increased Impact Fees

  • Solution Two – Stop Charette Process

  • Solution Three – Hold On Increased Density

  • Solution Four – Independent Traffic Studies

  • Solution Five – Compatibility Review Board

  • we will hear Mr. Ulman’s response to the substance of the proposed zoning and development reforms.

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