Gray: Current Policies For Developers' Sake

October 23, 1994|By SUSAN B. GRAY

The candidates for Howard County executive on the Nov. 8 ballot, Democrat Susan B. Gray and Republican Charles I. Ecker, were asked to respond to the following question: What is the most important issue that Howard County faces in the next four years, and why should voters elect you to deal with it? Their responses appear below:

The most important challenge facing Howard County over the next four years is to bring honesty, integrity and leadership back into county government and to shift the focus of government from primarily serving a handful of special interests to serving all the people of this county.

During the last four years, as I have worked with neighborhoods and communities across this county, one thing has become very clear: The current administration has little regard for the people of this country, whether they are employees, residents or small businesses.

I do not know whether this is because of Charles Ecker's $200,000 war chest (most of which has come from development-related interests) or for some other reason, but whatever the case, I have watched this administration do everything in its power to pit citizens and their communities against each other, obscure the facts and stifle legitimate discussion of the reason for governmental action or inaction. In every case, it has become obvious that this administration's agenda has been driven by other than the good of county taxpayers.

Witness this administration's determined effort to pit Montgomery Run against Hunt County Estates to put Route 100 through an existing neighborhood instead of through an adjacent undeveloped field. Who would have benefited? Certain key development interests.

Witness the rezoning of the Waverly tract. Hundreds of people testified against this proposal, thousands signed a petition against it. Yet, this administration pushed to have the Waverly proposal adopted, refused to disclose the estimated $70 million in road costs and then distorted its financial analyses. Who benefited? Again, certain key development interests.

Who loses? Each and every one of us who pays taxes, drives our roads or has kids in school.

Mr. Ecker has made the choice to facilitate the activities of those who have financed his campaign. In doing so, he has turned his back on our communities and the county's real problems: rising crime, the deterioration of the environment, the lack of sufficient funding for education, fire, police and human services and the increase in taxes.

In doing this, the Ecker administration has balanced county budget problems on the backs of county employees and through cuts in community services.

I will not engage in this administration's doublespeak but will refocus county priorities to put the needs of existing communities first and to bring communities back into the decision-making process.

I will not cut deals for special interests, but will put in place procedural safeguards (such as the charter amendment, Question B) which provide mechanisms by which the people of this county can exercise their rights.

I will hold the line on taxes and improve the quality of our services by shifting monies currently budgeted for developers' projects to education, crime prevention, environmental protection and other programs and services for county residents.

I will put in place effective growth management tools which truly do shift the cost of development to those who benefit and which allow further development only when adequate facilities are in place.

To keep taxes down and services high for the long term, I will revise the county's long-range plans so they are financially realistic and reflect the wishes of Howard County residents.

Howard County is a wonderful place to live and work. Like a fragile garden, however, it needs to be tended and nurtured for the next generation. We have the resources to do this but we must plan wisely for the future and plan for the best interests of all Howard County residents.

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