Vol. 10, No. 9

February 28 - March 6, 2002

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Politics Is Politics, But You Can Make It Work for You
by Barbi Shields

I’ve heard citizens call the governor’s plan for redrawing Maryland’s legislative districts “politics at its worst and in our face.” I’ve seen frustration because people feel they did not have a voice in the redistricting plan. They feel that they have been ignored.

They are partially right. Redistricting was a done deal. The plan was ratified February 22 and will go into effect next January. That’s the way it is. Politics is politics is politics. That is not going to change.

On the other hand, life is life is life. Whenever there is change, there is resistance. It’s also human nature that if you want a job done, you get somebody to do the job that will do what you want done. That’s how the governor appointed the State Redistricting Committee.

When Tom Rymer represented the 27th District, many people felt they had the best representation in the state. After a nasty political battle, he left to become a member of the Maryland Judicial System and George Owings III was appointed to replace him in the House of Delegates. District 27 still made out okay.

No matter who is representing whatever district, he or she can’t please everyone all the time.

It is our choice to work with our elected officials or not. Remember, that whether or not you voted these folks in, they work for you and they have a two- or four-year non-negotiable contract. We might as well try and get along with them and listen to what they have to say before we become too judgmental. All of us will benefit if we listen first before we put our mouth in gear.

In essence, all of the members of the Maryland General Assembly represent us as Maryland citizens. If you have an idea that your representative doesn’t like, find one who does. There are 141 delegates and 47 senators. Someone will share your views and support your ideas.

You’ll have better success if you go to the right jurisdiction. When you have a community problem, you go to your community or homeowners’ association.

When you have a county issue, you go to your county council or commissioner. They govern what goes on in zoning issues and your schools, maintain some of your roads, fire department, trash collection, local police and/or sheriff’s departments. A portion of your Maryland taxes dwindles down to the counties.

If you have a state issue, you go to your state representative. They deal with, among other things, the state board of education, state police and some roads, and they are the ones who can go to the purse-string holders of the state: the governor, the comptroller and the treasurer.

Your federal representatives — congressmen and senators — can assist you in social security matters, veterans or immigration issues.

County officials usually hang out in the County Court House. In Prince Frederick, that’s 410/535-1600. In Anne Arundel County they are at the Arundel Center, 410/867-2027.

January through April and a day or two a week during the interim, you can reach your state representatives at the State House on a toll free number: 800/492-7122. Many of them maintain district offices as well.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, four congressmen represent parts of Anne Arundel County:

  • Wayne Gilchrest has offices in both the Arundel Center in Annapolis: 410/263-6321; and in Washington: 202/225-5311.
  • Robert Ehrlich Jr.: 202/225-3061.
  • Benjamin Cardin: 202/225-4016.
  • Steny Hoyer also represents Calvert County: 202/225-4463.

In the U.S. Senate:

  • Barbara Mikulski: in Annapolis: 410/263-1805; in Washington: 202/224-4654.
  • Paul Sarbanes: 202/224-4524.

Barbi Shields, of Fairhaven, has worked for many years in county and state government.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly