Diane Evans in Anne Arundel Sun endorsement: Two-term council member best choice to oppose incumbent John Gary in the fall.

September 03, 1998

FOUR YEARS AGO, the Democratic Party took a beating in Anne Arundel County. Republicans gained their first majority on the county council since the county charter was adopted in 1964. John G. Gary, a state delegate and owner of a drapery business, maintained the GOP grip on Anne Arundel's executive seat. Four of the five men who have held that post have been Republicans.

Based on Mr. Gary's popularity for much of his first term, as late as last winter it appeared the Democrats would not field a candidate for the office. However, by spring, Janet S. Owens, 54, a former director of the county office on aging and the county housing authority, declared for the Democratic nomination.

Republican council member Diane R. Evans, 49, barred by term limits from another run for the council, announced about the same time that she would switch parties and challenge Mr. Gary as a Democrat also.

Both Democrats offer voters much county government experience. Ms. Owens has served ably as an administrator. Ms. Evans, a legislator, chaired the council for most of her second term.

Their political styles differ greatly. Ms. Owens is a compromiser who seeks to win over people with her outgoing personality. Ms. Evans approaches issues with a single-minded intensity and steadfastness that some people find off-putting. Nevertheless, the council functioned smoothly under her control and tackled such contentious issues as pension reform.

Mrs. Owens is a formidable candidate, but we endorse Ms. Evans for the Democratic nomination.

She is politically tough, as the job demands, and has a record of leadership. She also seems to have a deeper understanding than her opponent of county issues, ranging from budget to schools to agricultural preservation.

Ms. Evans probably could have won a seat in the state legislature but chose instead to try to remain in county government. She is the best choice to challenge Mr. Gary, 54, who is unopposed for the Republican nomination.

Anne Arundel County executive

Candidates: Democrats Diane R. Evans and Janet S. Owens. Republican John G. Gary is running uncontested.

Data: 1994 primary turnout: 42% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans. Salary: $92,000. Term: four years.

The county: Anne Arundel is prospering. Commercial development continues to chug along -- from a planned outlet mall to office buildings around Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The challenge: Despite rising tax revenues, the county budget is very tight because of a tax cap. An $80 million backlog of school repairs demands attention. Comprehensive rezoning, certain to JTC be contentious, is slated for the coming term.

Pub Date: 9/03/98

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