The Many Faces of John Gary

November 14, 1994

When someone has been in public life as many years as John G. Gary, it's probably natural that over time that person will leave a wealth of different impressions.

Some people think of John Gary as the crusader against pornography who wanted to require parents to give written consent before their children could learn about AIDS prevention in school.

Others may remember him as chairman of a group called "Watch," which tried to ban a ninth-grade civics textbook because it began with a passage about a group of survivors in a life raft who resorted to cannibalism.

Others might remember John Gary as the politician who attended an anti-communism convention sponsored by Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.

And still others could well think of him as the hot-headed loudmouth who called homosexuals "queers" and once referred to a judicial nominee as a "nasty bastard."

But as Mr. Gary prepares to take over the post of Anne Arundel County executive, we prefer to think of him another way: as the fiscal conservative who possesses an ability to pick apart a budget and make sound financial decisions.

Mr. Gary has spent 12 years in the House of Delegates and has been a hard-working member of the Appropriations Committee, as well as a small businessman and part-time developer in his private life. He has the skills Anne Arundel needs. But his success in the coming four years will depend upon his ability to communicate his vision without using divisive language.

Early in his campaign, he resorted to inflammatory rhetoric when he talked about "criminal elements leaking across our borders threatening our lives, our property and our quality of life." Later, // Mr. Gary said he regretted his words and for the rest of the campaign focused mainly on the issues.

We realize that Mr. Gary is a blunt, outspoken man. We admire his straightforward approach and his ability to be frank when necessary. Undoubtedly, we need more of that in politics.

But when Mr. Gary takes over as county executive in January, we hope he will think before he talks. He will no longer be just one good quote among 188 members of the General Assembly. He will be Anne Arundel's leader; his words will have far-reaching impact on how residents perceive their government and how outsiders perceive the county. Count to 10, Mr. Gary, then

speak.

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