New Blood for Baltimore County

January 18, 1995

The voters of Baltimore County apparently wanted new blood in their Annapolis delegation, and they got it. Two-thirds of the county's House of Delegates members are novices. Among these are the first African-Americans ever elected to a non-federal office from the jurisdiction.

No longer in the delegation are some familiar figures who moved on to seek other offices, though not successfully in every case -- people named Sauerbrey, Ehrlich, Bartenfelder, Bishop, Brewster, DeJuliis. Others resigned. Still others were sent packing last Nov. 8. The most surprising election defeat was suffered by Kenneth H. Masters of Catonsville, then the House majority leader. That so powerful and respected a player as Mr. Masters was given the heave-ho by voters indicates how far they were willing to take their anger toward the established political order.

At least the new group's inexperience won't be conspicuous in a General Assembly where about half the delegates and senators are rookies. For his part, new Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger says he aims to pick his spots; he will have his hand out only when the need is obvious and funding is available. The executive's priorities during this session will be money for school construction and the removal of chromium from Stansbury Park on the eastside. He also wants to increase the county's shares of funds for transportation projects and crime-fighting.

Give Mr. Ruppersberger points for making a conscious effort to establish relationships with delegation members and other state officials. This kind of involvement is a welcome change from the aloofness of the previous Towson administration.

Baltimore County House members, however, deserve a good razzing for maintaining their undemocratic position that delegates who are based in the city and Howard County -- but who also represent Baltimore County residents -- merit only partial votes at delegation meetings. This means 35,000 county citizens will be denied full representation at these conferences. An outrageous situation.

The county delegates should follow the lead of the county senators, who have agreed to give full votes at their meetings to their colleagues based in the city and Howard County. Because the Senate delegation is a more veteran group, its members are all the more obligated to assert themselves -- to show the newcomers how it's done and, more important, to help protect and promote the interests of Baltimore County.

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