When County Executive-elect Eileen M. Rehrmann and the new Harford County Council take office Monday, their most difficult job is to live up to the voters' expectations. Those expectations are high -- not only because of campaign promises made by the candidates but also because voters thought they sent an unmistakable message last month by dumping so many incumbents.
In succeeding Habern W. Freeman Jr. -- who is going to Annapolis as a senator -- Mrs. Rehrmann has a particularly tough act to follow. In his eight years as county executive, Mr. Freeman turned Harford from a fiscal basket case into a conservatively managed generator of predictable surpluses. With the state and localities sliding into recession, it will be nearly impossible for Mrs. Rehrmann to duplicate such a record. Yes, she was an impressive state legislator. But her effectiveness in Annapolis is now clouded by Gov. William Donald Schaefer's preoccupation with his own fiscal problems and the large number of newcomers in the county's legislative delegation with little allegiance to her.
In Bel Air, the Democratic executive is likely to have similar troubles with an assertive council. Four of the seven council members are novices, five are Republicans. Whether new or not, many council members have greater political ambitions and will want to see their names in headlines. Since all the executive's nominations for county department heads require council confirmation, early appointments should gauge the temperament of the Republican-controlled council.