Last month's election in Anne Arundel County was in a sense a referendum on the executive who didn't want the job anymore, Robert R. Neall. But voters endorsed him anyway by voting for a successor -- John G. Gary -- who vowed to continue what Mr. Neall had started.
Alongside the new Republican executive, the former minority voice on the former County Council is now the chairwoman in the majority: Republican Diane R. Evans.
One of the first issues the new regime must address is public safety. Although crime statistics are down in the county, residents say crime remains their chief concern. Mr. Gary must find the money to fulfill his promise to hire 80 new police officers during the next four years. Mr. Gary also will have to tap his political skills gleaned over 12 years in the state legislature to proceed with plans to build a needed, if controversial, detention center in Glen Burnie.
Environmental issues also pose a major challenge to the Gary administration in this environmentally conscious, bayside jurisdiction. County storm water drains must be rebuilt to comply with new federal clean water standards. Sewage treatment plants also must be upgraded to meet Chesapeake Bay clean-up initiatives by 1998.
And Mr. Gary must decide what the county is going to do with its garbage once the Millersville landfill is full. We hope that the new county executives in the region are more committed than their predecessors to developing a regional approach to solid waste disposal.
Schools present another challenge. Classrooms are crowded and public faith in the school board has eroded. We look for Mr. Gary to fulfill his promise to spend $137 million during the next four years to build new schools, and to persuade the legislature to give him the authority to appoint school board members.
As for Mrs. Evans, the rules are different from four years ago when she entered office as a dissident voice on the legislative body. She now will be judged on how well she leads. Already, the chairwoman appears comfortable with her new position.
Mrs. Evans already has begun implementing her philosophy of smaller government by cutting two staff cars and an assistant FTC auditor post. Larger challenges await on the environment, crime, public safety and the schools. Working with Mr. Gary, we expect Mrs. Evans to leave her mark on Anne Arundel County government.