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When Charles County commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly and Del. Peter F. Murphy announced their decisions to run for each other’s current posts in the 2014 election, Port Tobacco resident John Coller wasted little time before adding his name to the legislative race.

President-elect of the Southern Maryland Board of Realtors, Coller said it was supporters put off by Kelly and Murphy’s “big switch” who convinced him to take his first run at public office.

“I heard about the opening and the folks encouraging me to run. They’re thinking the big switch here might be creating some confusion among voters,” he said. “It’s not really allowing them to hold their elected officials accountable in the primary.”

Seeing the open House of Delegates seat as “another opportunity to serve Charles County,” Coller, 45, registered as a Democrat for the District 28 race Jan. 28, one day after Kelly filed her candidacy papers in Annapolis.

Coller said he knows and is on friendly terms with most of the county’s elected lawmakers and commissioners, including Kelly — they attend the same church.

“They’re all good people. They’re all the folks that do all the stuff that needs to be done in the community,” Coller said. “We all meet each other doing good things, but the switch just doesn’t seem right.”

The owner of his own Waldorf realty company, Coller said he is “pro-homeownership,” calling it “a huge part of our economy in Charles County.” If elected, he would push to preserve the state’s home mortgage interest tax deduction, limit how much homeowners associations can charge residents and reverse a 2012 court decision that rendered pit bull owners and their landlords legally responsible if their dog attacks someone.

“It’s important to have delegates that understand what’s going on,” Coller said. “We all bring our particular perspective on the legislation that would be pending before us. I’m not an expert on every issue out there, but no one is.”

A hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy Reserves from 1985 to 1993 and a member of the Charles County Catholic Business Association and governor-appointed Citizen Review Board for Children, Coller said he also would bring to the legislature experience as a business owner and the father of two children who attended both public and private schools.

Supporters “see me as someone who can make rational decisions and come to logical conclusions,” he said.

Charles County’s District 28 has three delegate seats. Incumbents Sally Y. Jameson and C.T. Wilson, both Democrats, also have filed.

jnewman@somdnews.com