County needs batters who know how to hit


July 26, 1998|By Harold Jackson

MY SON'S team played its last baseball game of the summer last week. He and his teammates didn't want it to be the last game, but their Columbia team was eliminated from further post-season competition.

The outcome, a loss to Violetville, was even more disappointing because my son didn't get to bat. He entered the game in its final innings; played third base in one, pitched in another. But it ended before his turn at the plate.

He won't be eligible to play at the same level next year because he will be 18 before that season ends. This was probably his last summer playing with the same teammates from other Howard County high schools.

It would have been nice to have one more at-bat for the squad, but it was not to be.

I mention all of this because the concept of batting has crossed my mind more than once this past week while interviewing a number of Howard County candidates for political office.

Got to want it

While no one suggested that analogy, the comments about wanting to do public service reminded me of batters stepping up to the plate.

You've got to want to be there to do the job.

I think every candidate deserves applause just for wanting to give back to the community.

Too few people want to get involved in the decisions that affect their families and homes until it's too late to do anything except complain.

People go to work in Baltimore or Washington or here in the county and come back home to cocoon.

They may tolerate a little television news to see if anything has happened since they glanced at the morning paper. But only until it's time for "Must See TV."

They're not about to attend a council or school board meeting unless it's about something that specifically affects them. They don't dare run for office and have the news media probing their backgrounds or knocking at the door for a fresh comment.

But somebody has to do it. Somebody has to handle the business of government, to make sure that the interests of citizens are promoted, that tax money is spent wisely, that streets are repaired, trash is picked up, homes kept safe, schools made viable.

More than 70 candidates are running in the Sept. 15 primary elections in Howard County. They're running for everything from register of wills to county executive. The Sun will make endorsements in almost every race, so I'm trying to interview as many of them as possible.

If you're a candidate and haven't spoken to me, call me at 410-715-2847.

The county is at an important crossroads. Chuck Ecker is finishing his final term and running for governor, so voters will elect a new county executive. Two current council members are battling for his job and a third isn't running for re-election.

A new council, which could have three freshman members, will answer further questions about growth in the county. In the past, those questions began with the word "where." Now, it's mostly a matter of "when."

We already know where most development will occur. Thousands of houses, townhouses and businesses are planned for the southwestern area near Fulton and north of Laurel.

The newly elected council and county executive will decide the pace of that construction and whether it will be allowed to overwhelm local schools and roads.

They will decide whether more money is needed for education and law enforcement so those departments can do more than keep up with population growth.

Migrating problems

The new officeholders will decide whether taxes should be raised to address migrating urban problems -- crime, drug abuse, poverty -- before those ailments get as out of hand here as they are in the cities.

The people elected to make such decisions must have public service as their sole motivation.

Howard County doesn't need another ambitious politician looking for the next feather to put in his or her war bonnet. Neither does it need inflexible public officials who would let a partisan agenda deter them from doing what is right for all the people.

The county needs conscientious men and women who want to step to the plate.

It's easy to sit at home and criticize others who fail to deliver the representation this county needs to remain one of the best places to live in Maryland.

I have nothing but admiration for those individuals who want to do more, people who come with ideas and skills that would be an asset to the county if they are elected.

Their job is to make themselves known to the rest of us and let us hear the ideas that they represent. Through their campaigns, we expect to learn which ones would serve Howard County best.

It's the voters' job to make sure they pay attention to these campaigns. If we choose the wrong candidates, if we choose batters who only strike out, then it will be a long season indeed.

Harold Jackson writes editorials about Howard County for The Sun.

Pub Date: 7/26/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.