November 19, 1992

Let's give Reps. Helen Delich Bentley and Benjamin Cardin credit where it is due.

The recently re-elected members of Congress not only traveled to Linthicum for the Anne Arundel Trade Council's annual fall membership dinner last week, they did their best to show county residents they will not be forgotten now that they do not have their own congressional representative.

Attending the dinner was a smart thing for them to do. Almost two weeks after the election, Anne Arundel residents remain suspicious that redistricting -- which fractured their single congressional district into parts of four other ones -- has left them in the keeping of representatives whose main concerns lie elsewhere. Mrs. Bentley, R-2nd, and Mr. Cardin, D-3rd, tackled that fear head-on, pledging not to make Anne Arundel an "orphan" and spending an hour answering questions.

Unfortunately, their message was mangled by the absence of Anne Arundel's other two congressmen-elect, Wayne Gilchrest, R-1st, and Steny Hoyer, D-5th. Not attending or even sending a representative wasn't a smart move.

Mr. Gilchrest had prior appointments, and Mr. Hoyer was traveling with the Democratic congressional leadership to meet new members -- both legitimate excuses. But considering the touchiness of the "orphan" issue, and that together they represent three-fourths of the county, Messrs. Hoyer and Gilchrest should have sent emissaries as a sign of commitment -- not just to the local business community, but to an entire county looking for reassurance. As one who has voted pro-business more than anyone else in the delegation, Mr. Gilchrest especially should have made sure he was represented.

Even more than Mr. Cardin and Mrs. Bentley, Mr. Hoyer and Mr. Gilchrest have made a point of trying to reassure Anne Arundel residents that redistricting will not hurt them. Mr. Gilchrest, who lives across Chesapeake Bay, said repeatedly during his campaign that geography doesn't matter. Mr. Hoyer intones that four congressmen will do more for the county than one.

They have plenty of time to prove they're right. For now, though, Anne Arundel still feels it was done dirty when the maps were redrawn. If the politicians want to win countians' trust, they had better not ignore them.

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