Campaign notes

November 08, 1998

One of the biggest losers from Tuesday's election was Women At The Table, an organization formed last year to encourage more women to seek public office.

WATT endorsed two women for Washington County Commissioner - Susan T. Tuckwell and Linda C. Irvin-Craig. Both lost.

School board candidate Lenora Barnhart, whom the group endorsed, also lost.

In addition, Mildred "Mickey" Myers, whom the group also endorsed for school board, lost during the primary.

The three women who were elected to countywide office on Tuesday, B. Marie Byers, Doris J. Nipps and Mary L. Wilfong, all won without WATT endorsements.

As incumbents, WATT officials felt Byers and Nipps already had a leg up. And Wilfong, who was the top vote-getter in the school board race, did not win the backing of the group.


"I think we're kind of disappointed," said Judy Lyons Wolf, one of the co-chairwomen of the organization. "We're very proud of what we did. It shows how far we have to go. I think it reminds us of why the organization was formed."

Wolf said the organization will continue its education efforts and will try to change an environment that makes it difficult for women to get elected in Washington County.

Voting participation actually increased

Talk over the last several days has focused on how dismal turnout was in the general election on Tuesday. But it is important not to compare apples to oranges when looking at the last two elections.

Including absentee ballots, a hair shy of 54 percent of the registered voters in Washington County cast ballots in Tuesday's election.

That's way down from the 62.5 percent turnout four years ago. The 35,102 ballots cast was 2,558 more than the 1994 general election.

About 13,000 new voters have been added to the rolls since then, helped greatly by the "motor voter" law that makes it easier to register. At the same time, the election board no longer purges rolls of nonvoters.

The result is that 1998 was a banner year for turnout compared to past elections, despite the low turnout percentages.

In September of 1994, there were 96,893 Washington County residents who were 18 or older, according to the Census Department. That translates roughly to a 33.6 percent turnout of the voting-age population.

Taking figures from September 1997, the latest available, turnout of the voting-age population in Washington County this year was 35.5 percent. Even accounting for a slight increase in population over the last year, turnout as a percentage as eligible voters still increased over four years ago.

Central Committee elects officers

The Washington County Republican Central Committee elected new officers last Wednesday.

Mark Thomas will serve as chairman of the new committee, which expanded from seven members to nine.

Vincent Dellaposta was elected first vice chairman and Mark Boyer was elected second vice chairman.

The secretary will be Allison M. Albert and M. Ann Dellaposta will serve as treasurer of the central committee.

Party central committees normally serve low-profile roles, helping their candidates and recruiting people to run for office and spreading the party message.

But if an elected official dies in office or is removed from office, the central committees hold great influence over who fills the remainder of the term.

Vincent Dellaposta said the state party authorized the county committees to expand this year to reflect the growing size and influence of the GOP throughout the state. Once an afterthought in Maryland politics, the Republicans now have small, yet determined minorities in the General Assembly.

In Washington County, the party has seen steady gains in registration, recently overtaking the once-dominant Democrats.

- Brendan Kirby

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