Vol. 10, No. 44

October 31 - November 6, 2002

Current Issue

Bay Weekly Election Special: Candidate Questionnaire

Letters to the Editor
Bay Reflections
Burton on the Bay
Chesapeake Outdoors
Not Just for Kids
Music Scene
Eight Days a Week
What's Playing Where
Curtain Call
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Finally — Election Day

At Bay Weekly, we don’t make candidate endorsements.

It has to do with the tendency of political parties to present false choices and breed rivalries that get in the way of smart decision-making. We also don’t like being painted ourselves with any partisan political brush; our aim is not partisanship but fostering a community of interests.

Nonetheless, we make observations, as we do here in key Election Day contests.

The political landscape this election is unlike any in recent memory. The cavalcade of troubling news — war preparation in the aftermath of terror attacks; the snipers’ rampage and the stock market theft of our retirement funds — took too great a toll from our attention and emotion.

As a result, some voters may not have paid sufficient attention to the election and the huge stakes for Baysiders.

In these brief observations, we pay attention to tight races featuring candidates with a solid record of public policy experience that promises predictable future behavior.

Governor. This race has been a humdinger, partly because the press and many voters have longed for a true choice. In Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, voters have an Annapolis-seasoned politician who can reasonably be expected to devote special attention to our most vulnerable resources — our children, our seniors and our environment.

Rep. Robert Ehrlich is the state GOP’s most appealing politician in a generation. Our hope is that, if elected, he would alter his past approach, as promised, to extend the same care to these vulnerable elements of our commonwealth.

County Executive. The incumbent, Democrat Janet Owens, has climbed a steep hill from Orphans’ Court judge to upset victor to an executive steeled by unremitting land-use controversy and her sprawling county’s involvement in global events with facilities such as BWI and the National Security Agency. She is criticized for not having developed a progressive policy toward rapacious development, but she has kept promises for schools and has restored civility and accessibility to the office.

Republican challenger Phil Bissett, a former state delegate, was smooth if somewhat short on substance in his primary victory and his campaign against Owens. The mission of challengers is to persuade voters that they could do the job better, and on that score Bissett has stressed his connections and offered a few notable suggestions, such as a more intensive investigation of cancer clusters in the county and an initial 90-day oversight of the permitting process for development. He’s not especially clear, though, on what happens after that 90 days.

Senate Dist. 33. In interviews, questionnaires and public events, we have been continually impressed with incumbent Sen. Robert Neall’s vision of the big picture and his grasp of the details needed to paint it. No wonder: The Republican-turned-Democrat has seen the canvas from all angles: as county executive, delegate and now as senator running in a district with new southern reaches.

In this issue of Bay Weekly, we also continue our series of candidates in their own words, following on the heels of our full-length interviews the past two weeks with gubernatorial hopefuls and Anne Arundel County executive contestants.

We were surprised and dismayed by the few candidates who did not respond to our candidate questionnaires. Among them were all four candidates — including incumbents Joseph Vallerio and James Proctor — in the Dist. 27A delegate seat newly configured by the courts for Dunkirk and Owings in Calvert County.

That arrogance underscores people’s fears that portions of northern Calvert County could become an unrepresented island amid Prince George’s County interests. So much for judges as political map-makers.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly