Anger won HOWARD COUNTY

November 06, 1992

The voters have spoken, and on the subject of term limits, there can be no doubt about their feelings. By a lopsided 78 percent to 22 percent margin, Howard County voters said a resounding "yes" to term limits. Current County Council members have 10 more years -- certainly ample time to pack their bags -- before they will have to step down.

Howard voters were not alone. Anne Arundel and Prince George's voters on Election Day also approved term limits for council members in their counties. Outside Maryland, 14 states ratified term limitation initiatives for members of Congress.

At the very least, Howard countians have shown that they are in step with the latest political fashion. Still, the popularity of term limitations should lead no one to conclude they mean good politics.

As we have said before, term limits are unnecessary and, in fact, take away the voters' right to elect whomever they feel is best for the job.

Howard residents also have shown they have no trouble routing council representatives they don't like -- without term limits. No council member in recent history has served more than three four-year terms.

Term limits are simply battlefield surgery to the problem of career politicians. A better solution would be to reform campaign financing laws so that incumbents don't have an unfair advantage over challengers.

On two other ballot questions before them on Tuesday, Howard voters were correct to allow county officials to establish a rainy-day fund for emergencies and to restrict the use of surplus funds above the limit set for the rainy-day account.

These measures represent a common-sense approach to managing the county's budget. After two years of uncertainty regarding state aid and other revenue pressures, voters realized such an account was long overdue and passed both measures.

County voters also elected two new members to the Board of Education: Sandra French, an office manager and former substitute teacher, and Linda Johnston, a health education professor at Howard Community College. Ms. French did not have our endorsement for the position. However, she and Ms. Johnston are qualified and knowledgeable and should make solid contributions as board members.

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