Gray for County Council District 2

October 18, 1994

As much as he loves politics, Howard County Councilman C. Vernon Gray has another job, as a professor of political science ++ at Morgan State. If not at the university, his title in Howard County politics might as well be dean. After 12 years as a County Council member, he reigns as titular head of the county's Democratic Party and as one of the most powerful African-American politicians in Maryland.

When Parris Glendening accepted the party's nomination for governor last month, he made a point of publicly thanking Mr. Gray for his backing. And while county executive candidate Susan B. Gray has emerged to head the Democratic ticket in Howard, Mr. Gray has not embraced her candidacy nor conceded any influence.

His quiet rejection of Ms. Gray (no relation) is a sign of the independence he fiercely guards. Yet in most matters he is fiercely loyal to his political party. His ties to leaders in other jurisdictions also bring clout to the county. That is part of the reason Mr. Gray gets our endorsement for a fourth term representing the Second Councilmanic District.

The 54-year-old Mr. Gray has been a leader among local elected officials in the drive to ban smoking in public places and in advocating the creation of affordable housing. On fiscal matters, Mr. Gray has supported economic development policies aimed at increasing the county's commercial tax base. His skill as a negotiator helped hammer out an agreement among county officials to fund the purchase of computer technology for older county schools.

Mr. Gray's opponent, Republican Evelyn L. Tanner, was a little-known member of the county Board of Appeals before she won her party's nomination in September.

But Ms. Tanner, 53, has run a lackluster campaign. And in an embarrassing public skirmish, she squared off with officials of the county chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, accusing the organization of purposefully omitting her name from a circular that listed other African-Americans running for county office. That misguided attack on potential allies was symbolic of Ms. Tanner's lack of experience in politics.

Howard County has a seasoned veteran in Mr. Gray. It should hold on to him.

4( Tomorrow: County Council District 3.

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