For Agee in Democratic Primary Anne Arundel Executive

August 25, 1994

As difficult as the last four years have been for Anne Arundel County government, the next four will be harder.

County Executive Robert R. Neall had to make tough decisions about paring and reshaping government during a recession marked by cuts in state aid and followed by a voter-imposed property tax cap. His successor must decide where to take government from here. He will have to determine what qualifies as essential services and how to maintain them as the tax cap is felt; its effect so far has been minimal due to low inflation. Like Mr. Neall, the next Arundel executive will not be able to give everyone everything, but the mood of austerity fashionable in the Neall years could change. Saying "no" will be increasingly difficult.

The new county executive must be smart, innovative and understand the times. He must be a strong leader and manager. Of five Democrats running this year, Robert Agee best fits these criteria.

If some Democratic voters do not yet know him that is because Mr. Agee has toiled in the background of county and state government for 24 years. He has been a No. 2 man who developed ideas and brokered compromises, letting others take the credit. He answered complaints about airport noise with a state plan to purchase the hardest-hit homes. As aide to then-county executive O. James Lighthizer, he authored a growth plan that led to developer impact fees in Anne Arundel.

Though Mr. Agee returned to the private sector as the revenue-rich 1980s ended, he understands that the era of

government growth and spending is over. He knows that demand for, say, improved public safety must be met inexpensively and imaginatively with as much community cooperation as possible. His community policing plan is simple, pragmatic and cost-effective: use fire stations and public school facilities as sites for neighborhood police substations and permanently assign officers to specific communities.

Mr. Agee's chief rival, Theodore Sophocleus, was the 1990 Democratic nominee. A capable legislator, Mr. Sophocleus talks of a government like a cozy family, where everyone can come to him with needs and wants. He likes representing and pleasing people, which is partly why he has done well during the past year as a state delegate. But an executive doesn't represent. He manages. He decides whose school gets built this year and who has to wait. He often makes people unhappy.

Mr. Agee understands this. When Democratic voters go to the polls Sept. 13, they should choose him over Mr. Sophocleus, former Clerk of the Circuit Court H. Erle Schafer, police Cpl. Larry Walker and perennial candidate Louise Beauregard to run in November against Del. John Gary, who stands unopposed in the Republican primary.

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