Categorized | ICLEI, News


It could be a great political thriller:  Suburban county in a deep blue state suddenly elects several commissioners who are committed to cutting spending, taxes, unnecessary regulations.  They plan to free business to do what it does best – grow and hire people.  They also seek free market answers to government problems.  A Tea Party dream?  No, it really happened in Carroll County, Maryland.

In 2010, Carroll County did something that had never happened before:  They elected five county commissioners instead of three.  The three incumbents were Julia W. Gouge, Dean L. Minnich and Michael D. Zimmer.  There are five districts, one centered on Westminster and the other four districts surrounding it.  Each voter will cast one vote for the commissioner in their district instead of three at large.  Carroll County, the home of Whittaker Chambers by the way, is a near suburb of Baltimore, bordering Baltimore County on the east and Pennsylvania on the north.  it has about 150,000 residents.  Minnich decided not to run for reelection but Gouge and Zimmer did.

The tea party movement came to Carroll County as it has come to many places.  Here’s the March 28, 2010 Carroll County Times article.  The Times reported that some thought the tea party might thrive in the suburb but others dissented.  Jim Roenick helped start the Carroll County tea party group and they hosted Maryland’s statewide convention in March.  He reported to the Times that it started with a few people and was now at 60-80 or so.  Roenick cited a number of its members were going to seek local office.  Commissioner Minnich was less sure of their effect and was concerned about simplistic solutions to complex local problems.

In Maryland, there is a primary in September (the 14th in 2010) and the GOP had a contested primary in each of the five districts.  The remaining two incumbents ran in two of the districts and were defeated.  In District 2, Haven Shoemaker defeated three rivals, including incumbent Julia Gouge, in the GOP primary.  Doug Howard also defeated a incumbent in District 5, that being Commissioner Michael Zimmer.  Other primary winners were Robin Bartlett Frazier, David H. Roush and Richard S. Rothschild.  Here are the results summarized.  All five Republicans were elected in November.

Howard and Rothschild are worthy of deeper review.  Howard was elected by his newly elected peers Commission President.  Here is Howard’s campaign website with a few highlights.

We need a better process that limits government, looks for private sector solutions and requires organizations seeking funding to improve efficiency, coordinate with other agencies and seek alternative funding sources. We need to encourage new business that creates high paying jobs without disrupting the community. We do not need hundreds of acres rezoned. We need real economic development. Small business must be encouraged. Property rights must be protected. We must leave the control of the destiny our citizens in their hands not in the government. This is a time when a real conservative perspective is needed.

This applies to economic development, too:

Review zoning laws, business zoning process, county staff positions and appointed boards and make changes to establish a more “business friendly” process that balances economic development with the needs and concerns of the local communities.


Education has been put in jeopardy by all 3 current commissioners spending nearly $80 million on an unnecessary high school. Despite low enrollment projections, this was approved without any state matching funds. We also need more civics and local history taught in our schools.

Doug Howard owns a business (BDG Entrepreneurial Services) that helps emerging entrepreneurs succeed; he also donates time to a non-profit to help start up businesses that cannot afford it:  Start-Up Carroll.  Howard ought to know how to make government work for business.

Richard S. Rothschild is also a staunch believer in free market solutions.  Here is his website and highlights (emphasis is his) – my readers will cheer for these:

I believe America’s regulatory, environmental, licensing, tax, judicial, and labor law environment have created a hostile business environment that drives jobs and industry overseas; increases global pollution; & hurts American workers. We must reduce and/or eliminate regulation of non-critical items.

Want more?

School budgets are austere but we cannot afford to throw more dollars at the problem. I SUPPORT policies that nurture and reward creativity & innovation, and PROPOSE we consider retaining professional fund raisers on a contingent-fee basis to help our schools financially. Additionally, we need to devise creative ways to reduce overhead expenses and direct more dollars where they count… in the classroom.

How about this:

I WILL manage the county budget the way I manage my own… with common sense:  Plan for the worst; Hope for the best; Minimize debt; Maintain cash reserves; and use creativity and proven business experience  to reduce spending and LOWER Property Taxes by trimming unconstitutional and “extra-constitutional” discretionary programs.

I oppose illegal immigration and support steps to prevent problems now impacting several adjacent Counties.  I support E-Verify requirements for workers.  If Annapolis will not give us a legislative solution, I PROPOSE a voluntary program I refer to as, “I COMPLY”, where participating businesses that agree to hire only legal workers could get stickers to place on their front doors that say, “I COMPLY”.   Americans could then vote against illegal immigration with their pocketbooks.

This one I especially like:

ICLEI- International Communities for Local Environmental Initiatives: I believe we should terminate Carroll County’s membership in the ICLEI because it advocates policies (U.N. Agenda 21) that are incompatible with the Constitutional property rights of our citizens.

This is a symphony for my ears!  RAH!!!!!

Finally Rothschild’s Second Amendment stance is great, too:

I believe the right to keep and bear arms also applies to self defense, and would support a “shall issue” statute.

Rothschild describes himself as:  “16 years profitable Real Estate Management, Investment, Business Advisory & Financial Services; Informal mediation of real estate / business disputes.”

Robin Bartlett Frazier served in both county (on the Planning Commission) and state government (Intergovernmental Liaison for the Ehrlich Administration) and states this in her campaign:

Today, we are experiencing the same over spending, over regulating, and over-reaching policies that challenged Carroll in the 1990s when I first served on The County Planning Commission and then as Commissioner in 1998-2002.  My conservative convictions and influence helped guide Carroll into a position in 2002 where debt, crime, fees, red tape and regulation DECLINED, and reserves, the bond rating, and industrial tax base INCREASED.  These are all indicators of good government policy which is sorely needed again. This is history worth repeating!

David H. Roush ran a more traditional conservative campaign that can be found at this article in the Times. His campaign domain name expired the other day and the site was down.

Finally, Haven N. Shoemaker, an attorney (I like him already!) was the fifth new commissioner elected in November.  He was the Mayor of Hampstead for seven years and claimed never to raised taxes during that time.  He also tended to run a more traditional campaign.  However, Shoemaker spoke at the Westminster Tea Party rally on April 15, 2010 and identified himself as a fellow tea partier:

Good evening. It’s an honor and a privilege to be here. As Mayor of Hampstead, a few months ago I raised the Gadsden flag in response to irresponsible spending by the Federal and State governments. Someone said to me, Haven, flying a protest flag is pretty radical. Radical? Years ago the famous Baltimore newspaperman H.L. Mencken wrote that a radical “is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”

Here’s more:

Don’t Tread On Me. That is our message to Annapolis and to Washington. Let us keep our hard earned dollars. Let our local and limited government do the basics like fixing roads, providing police protection, pumping water and sewer. Cut your fat programs and leave us the Hell alone. Don’t Tread On Me. Keep the jackboot of government off our necks. Leave us out of your ambitious social engineering. Find someone else to pay for illegal immigration. Let us take of our families, our homes, our churches, our schools. Don’t Tread On Me.

Government has to change, ladies and gentlemen. It has to be restored to the people. Bob Ehrlich is going to do that at the State level, and it also has to happen here locally. As such, I announced my candidacy for County Commissioner in the Hampstead-Finksburg District last night. I know that in every village, every hamlet, every town, every borough, every wide spot in the road, Americans have been driven to despair. We have been pushed to the breaking point. It is not a protest. It is not a complaint.

It is a warning…Don’t Tread On Us. God bless you all and the United States of America.

I’d say attorney and Mayor Shoemaker talks the talk.  Lte’s hopes he walks the walk. The early returns are encouraging:

The new, five-member board campaigned on a number of ideas, including fiscal responsibility, a smaller constitutional government, term limits for their positions and protection of individual property rights. Since it took office Dec. 6, the board has chosen not to fill two county government positions and asked the state legislative delegation to sponsor legislation placing term limits on the county’s commissioner positions.

Can this happen elsewhere?  Yes it can.  Find solid candidates; don’t split the vote; work hard and you can have success.  Perhaps local government could be sexy after all.  I should have more on this in the future.



About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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