Owens' Christmas Wish List

A year ago, Janet Owens didn't hang enough stockings on the mantle. The newly elected Anne Arundel County executive had promised increased education spending at every stop in her campaign for office. So that stocking got the lion's share of the Christmas candy.

Sometimes her agenda seemed just too narrow.

This year, Owens has hung a full row of stockings. We think that her initiatives for 2000, outlined at a dinner last week with the County Council and members of the County's delegation to the General Assembly, give all the county family their due.

The headlines still went to her request for $25 million for school construction. We won't quibble with the need to refurbish schools at a time when it's more critical than ever to prepare kids. In the word globalization that you hear these days is a threat: The next generation must be prepared to compete with the global workforce - or else.

But like a big family, our big county thrives on diverse interests. One of those is our Rural Legacy. Decisions about growth that we make now in the General Assembly and in our county will be critical for many years in the future. So we're pleased that the county executive is seeking $1.2 million to preserve land throughout the county - not just in the south - from developers.

But our quality of life in Anne Arundel County is enriched by many values beyond schools and preservation. So we're rejoicing at the breadth of Owens' wish list.

On her millennial wish list:

We were heartened, too, at the prospects for an improved governing tone in the county. This year's dinner was a lighthearted affair, with members of both political parties harmonizing.

On our wish list, we're hoping that Owens will be able to avoid the distractions of a year ago when she was undermined by a top adviser and blindsided by the Ku Klux Klan's demands to "Adopt a County Road." (She wisely told both to get lost.)

We've also added to our wish list our hope that Owens manages to adjust to the rigors and intrusiveness of her job. "You have no life," she complained at the dinner, referring to pressures from just about everyone.

Officials serve us best when they learn to balance the public and private parts of their lives. Some keep the balance by making sure they devote portions of each day to exercise or restorative pursuits, others by getting away ­ however briefly.

So we're pleased that Owens is looking forward to spending a chunk of the holidays at her family farm in Southern Anne Arundel County. There may be no better place for her to restore balance - or to remember the wide open spaces she needs to protect in the coming months.

| Issue 51 |

Volume VII Number 51
December 23-29, 1999
New Bay Times

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