As I look over the results of last Tuesday's general election, like one looks over the aftermath of a tornado or earthquake, I feel disappointed and disillusioned. I feel that the election really hasn't made things any better, but probably will worsen the climate of rancor and divisiveness here in the county.
It seems that people have let their emotions run away with them, and have "thrown the baby out with the bathwater." I'm afraid they really didn't look at the issues and just said, "Let's throw them out and it will make everything better. They voted for their frustrations, not for the candidates' records or achievements. They voted for candidates who really had no new ideas or plans, only just "I could have done it better," without actually saying how. Some opponents even admitted that the incumbents did a good job, but they could "do better."
One thing the election showed is that you really can't please all of the people all of the time or even some of the time. We have a number of people who think there isn't enough growth in the county, and blame the administration for being too restrictive, and we have those who think the administration hasn't done enough to limit growth.
It seems as though these factions teamed up this time, along with the "throw the rascals out whether they are good or bad" faction, to affect the outcome of this election.
By the number of Republicans elected, it looks like Howard County politics may be headed in a more conservative direction, probably caused by the increasing number of affluent citizens moving to the county over the past few years. Those who buy the half-million to million-dollar homes usually tend to be more conservative and belong to the rich white guy's party, as I call the Republican party. I know there are people who will object to my characterization, but the demographics tend to point that way.
Then again, maybe there is no trend -- just a vote for anybody other than an incumbent, regardless of party.
The next four years in the county could be very unpredictable. I certainly hope things will go smoothly and the county will not suffer from divisiveness because of this election. We will have a county executive and majority of the county council of different parties, which could cause a lot of deadlocks and delays in getting legislation through. This, in turn, may keep the county from moving ahead with some necessary projects or legislation.
We could see nothing but fighting and bickering between political factions for the next four years. But Ecker is an unknown quantity, having formerly been a Democrat and one who changed parties to run for county executive. Maybe he and the council will get along and work together successfully. If you remember the last Republican county executive who had formerly been a Democrat, J. Hugh Nichols, you remember an interesting scenario.
We had during Nichols' tenure a sort of "laissez-faire" type of approach to development, where "anything goes" and zonings and so forth were changed to please the developers. Then we had Nichols abdicate the throne for an out-of-state job, leaving a feeling of "apres moi, le deluge," and we were left to cope with what became the rampant development of the county.
Looking at our representatives to the state legislature, we can see another possible problem on the horizon. Now we will have a large number of representatives of the minority party representing us. Will this cause Howard County to miss out on money for the projects we need over the next few years? The party in charge usually sticks together and helps its members out.
What about the relationship the county has had with Governor Schaefer?
Do you think Howard County will join Baltimore City as "persona non grata" in the governor's eyes because the legislators and administrators of his choice were defeated? I just have this feeling we won't be seeing the "guv" popping by to give the county any more noise barriers or stopping any more unpopular projects like truck stops.
The election of 1990 could stand as an important one for our county. It could be a turning point for us. Will things be as good as they are now?
Better, worse, or what? There are many unknowns for the future of the county over the next four years. I hope that the citizens of Howard County didn't let their emotions lead to a period of turmoil for us.
As for me, I'll be keeping a close watch over my local representatives to see if they are looking out for the interests of their constituents. If they are not, you know me, I'll be all over them like a cheap suit. Who knows, maybe this bunch will join the trend of one-termers themselves. You know how the voters are now. They do get angry, and politicians are a convenient target.