Columbia Council Endorsements

April 22, 1994

Columbia residents will go to the polls tomorrow to elect members to the Columbia Council and to their respective village boards. Unless some last-minute enthusiasm erupts, the turnout will be astonishingly low -- verifying a running debate about apathy in the planned city. Many villages require votes from only 10 percent of homeowners to validate an election. Still, often a quorum isn't met. Three villages even scrapped that requirement for lower thresh olds. And one village -- Long Reach -- requires that but 50 people vote to legitimize the returns.

For a city of more than 80,000 people that prides itself as progressive, voter participation in Columbia is nothing less than pitiful. A quarter-century after the Rouse Co. created it, the city stands at a crossroads and is in need of greater citizen participation. At stake is the direction the Columbia Association will follow in its mission to provide recreational services and other amenities. The lien and fees that Columbians pay has generated a $32 million budget for the coming year.

The Columbia Council, with advice from the village boards, oversees the association and approves the budget. But that task has not always been diligently pursued by the council, which has viewed itself too much as a corporate club.

On tomorrow's ballot are two unopposed incumbents -- Mike Rethman of Hickory Ridge and Suzanne Waller of Town Center.

In addition, we believe that Laura Waters of Harper's Choice would do a better job than incumbent Hope Sachwald in overseeing the town budget. Likewise, Barry Blyveis of Owen Brown would be a better overseer than current council chairwoman, Karen Kuecker, who dismisses public criticism of the town's escalating budget. Gary B. Glisan of Oakland Mills has village board experience and a clearer vision for the association than challenger Neal Noble. And Wilde Lake incumbent Norma Rose's experience and support for a one-person, one-vote system of elections makes her a better choice than challenger Michelle Alexander.

For Columbia Council, The Sun endorses Laura Waters, Harper's Choice; Barry Blyveis, Owen Brown; Gary B. Glisan, Oakland Mills, and Norma Rose, Wilde Lake, in tomorrow's council elections. We hope it signals the beginning of the end of political apathy in Columbia.

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