Regionalism with a new lineup Post-election: Metropolitan-area cooperation transcends individuals occupying top elected offices.

November 19, 1998

OFFICIALS who enthusiastically worked to promote regionalism in the Baltimore-Washington corridor are leaving office next month, but that doesn't mean cooperative efforts will taper off.

Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker, Harford County's Eileen M. Rehrmann and Anne Arundel County's John G. Gary will be replaced, but their successors -- James Robey, James M. Harkins and Janet S. Owens, respectively -- are apt to be just as interested in regional solutions to problems, from development to education. We expect the same from a new board of commissioners in Carroll County, where Robin Bartlett Frazier joins Julia Walsh Gouge and Donald I. Dell, both regional proponents during previous terms.

The "changing of the guard" of local officeholders in 1990 did not set back regional thinking, as some feared. The need for cooperation clearly transcends the individuals who occupy the top posts.

Formally constituted groups such as the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, which deals with federal transportation money and air quality, are fixtures. Organizations such as the "Big Seven," which includes Maryland's largest jurisdictions, and the Greater Baltimore Alliance will continue because public and private sector leaders realize that cooperation is their only means to compete.

Markets do not stop at county or city lines. People increasingly live in one locality and work in another. Businesses draw customers from far away.

Major economic issues -- from improving transportation to adding international flights at Baltimore-Washington International Airport -- cannot be accomplished by state government alone or by local executives in isolation. If Maryland is to prosper, the metropolitan jurisdictions must present a united front to themselves -- and to the rest of the world.

Pub Date: 11/19/98

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