Now that Republican Robert R. Neall has registered his complaints about campaign irregularities in Democrat Theodore Sophocleus' campaign, the two candidates for Anne Arundel county executive are talking about important substantive issues -- the property tax cap referendum and government spending.
Both oppose the inflexibility, if not the intent, of the tax limitation proposal. If passed, the measure would cap yearly growth in property taxes at 4.5 percent or even lower if inflation drops. Both candidates favor tightening government purse strings, but neither wants an immovable cap. Mr. Sophocleus favors an informal lid on property tax growth -- 5 percent to 8 percent -- and oversight by a spending affordability committee. Mr. Neall proposes holding property tax growth to a 5 percent range, tough scrutiny of departmental spending and keeping spending below the county's annual growth in personal income.
It is encouraging that the candidates are back in the business of discussing Arundel's problems. Last week, both campaigns jumped the track, focusing on a charge of campaign finance irregularities. Mr. Neall discovered that his opponent had used the names of dozens of elderly citizens without their knowledge as campaign contributors. The state prosecutor is checking out Mr. Neall's allegations.