Mud in your eye Anne Arundel: Candidates for many county offices focused on the negative, leaving voters in the dark.

November 02, 1998

TOMORROW, Anne Arundel voters will select the stewards of their next county government. If they are lucky enough to live in the rare district where candidates talked about themselves and their plans, they won't be in for major surprises.

But if voters happened to live in a district where name-calling and attack advertising dominated the campaign, they have little notion about how the people they elect will behave in office.

Politicians believe these negative campaigns win elections and, unfortunately, sometimes they do. But the information they produce is often useless. The half-truths and sleazy dealings of candidates don't help voters truly assess the candidates.

Anne Arundel's county executive race has been the most visibly negative. Incumbent John G. Gary, a Republican, calls his Democratic opponent, Janet S. Owens, a "liberal." She calls him a "bully." Neither candidate told us much this fall about how they would stem the friction between county government and the school board, and the persistent budgetary schism that lies at the root of it.

Voters in northern Anne Arundel's 32nd Legislative District have heard more than they need to know about Republican state Sen. C. Edward Middlebrooks' 1995 bankruptcy or about Democrat James "Ed" DeGrange Jr.'s campaign being supported by the "slush fund" of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Voters are better served when candidates focus on their own intentions rather than on their opponents. Anne Arundel residents want to know what their representatives will do to control growth, improve education, maintain the state's fiscal strength and their communities as attractive places to live and work. For many, it's too late this election. We can only hope more candidates heed that message next time.

Pub Date: 11/02/98

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