In good times, electing local leaders is easy. Tough economic times make this task far more difficult -- and more crucial. In selecting county executives in the four home-rule subdivisions around Baltimore, voters must weigh not only professional qualifications and experience, but each candidate's ability to confront austerity.
The Sun has endorsed Republicans in Anne Arundel and Harford counties and Democrats in Baltimore and Howard.
Anne Arundel County voters have a budget-minded candidate in Republican Robert R. Neall. He established an impressive track record in both private and public arenas, as state drug czar and as vice president for development at the Johns Hopkins Health System. In his 12 years in the House of Delegates, Mr. Neall became one of the legislature's premier budget experts. He is not afraid to take unpopular stands: In 1984, he took the politically painful position of supporting a bill to reduce state employee and teacher pensions because the program was bankrupting the state.
In Harford County, former Bel Air mayor Geoffrey R. Close is another high-caliber Republican candidate. His eight years as mayor have given him invaluable executive seasoning. That, along with his fiscal conservatism, will serve Harford well as that county copes with slumping tax receipts and greater citizen demands.