ONE OF THE true benefits of a political campaign is the chance to meet so many different people in such a short period of time. During the year, I have taken full advantage of this opportunity and have learned a great deal from the people of this county.
I have learned once again that people deserve a government as good as they are. All too often we expect so little of public officials that we are not disappointed when they deliver platitudes in lieu of honesty, promises instead of action, a sliver of truth, and answers calculated to please rather than inform. I have learned that people are weary of this brand of politics and they yearn for change.
But perhaps, the strongest message I have received is that people are concerned about their future. They are anxious about the economy, uncertain about the Middle East, and sense we are in for rough times ahead.
I am concerned about how the uncertain economic times ahead will affect them. I wonder if property taxes and government spending increases will drive them from their homes after so many years. With illegal drug use and crime increasing, our environment threatened, gridlock on our streets, schools in need of repair . . . what kind of future will they, their childrenand their grandchildren, come to realize?
Having seen this tension in too many faces, I know that we have to pay closer attention to our tax dollars, because they are our tax dollars, and their use deserves the most careful scrutiny. We will at times have to calmly say ''no,'' because the public's interest will require it.
The times will require a more efficient government in the coming years, one capable of solving our problems while at the same time balancing our goals against our ability to pay for them.
I served the people of Anne Arundel County for 12 years in the House of Delegates. I have worked as a corporate vice president at the Johns Hopkins Health System for the last three years, and as a member of the Maryland Transportation Authority, overseeing the state's bridges, tunnels and the Port of Baltimore. I also have served as Maryland's first ''drug czar.'' Experience which, taken as a whole, this newspaper kindly termed ''well-rounded seasoning'' for the job I seek today.
During my years as a legislative leader, I did not always have the luxury of governing during boom times. I had to wrestle with recessions and an S&L fiasco that shook the very foundation of our state. I made the tough and sometimes unpopular choices. And we solved those problems. If the federal government had had the same fortitude, we wouldn't be in the festering S&L mess we're in now.
Today, the very things which make Anne Arundel County so attractive are threatened. As county executive, my challenge is to lead the county government through the tough times we face, while keeping its heart and its responsibility to the people it serves.
The thousands of neighbors I have met are looking for a tested and successful leader to guide us through these uncertain times. I would like to believe that I will satisfy that need. I am excited about meeting the challenges which we face and building a county which is second to none in its commitment to the people it serves and second to none in the services it delivers. With your help, we can make it happen. Thank you.
Mr. Neall is the Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County executive.