Council moves toward change Six new members are sworn in during unusual ceremony

December 08, 1998|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

There were tears, promises and chants that sounded like dogs barking. There was even a sermon about the rights of flag burners and a quotation from Dr. Seuss.

The unusual swearing-in ceremony yesterday for the Anne Arundel County Council was a sign that the new council bears little resemblance to what critics had called the predicable "rubber-stamp" council of the past four years.

Control of the council swung on Nov. 3 from a 4-3 Republican majority to a 5-2 Democratic edge. Three incumbents allied with the pro-growth County Executive John G. Gary were defeated, and three councilmen retired, putting six new faces on the seven-member panel.

In the council's first act Monday night, its majority elected Democrats Daniel E. Klosterman Jr. and Pamela G. Beidle as chairman and vice chairman.

"I've seen us addressed in the papers as neophytes, and I guess that's true," said Klosterman, 54, of the 2nd District, an accountant. "But most of all I think that this is a council of inclusion, not exclusion. I think we will work together in a bipartisan way."

The council quickly put forth an agenda of slowing growth, banning perks of office and fighting for the pocketbooks of residents.

Members introduced bills and a resolution that would extend for a moratorium on subdivisions in the Mountain Road peninsula for a year, ban pensions for the county executive and council, and study possible water-rate reductions.

The ban on pensions, which Klosterman introduced at the request of new County Executive Janet S. Owens, would save the county about $15,200 a year.

But the first gathering wasn't just about legislation. It gave members a soapbox to reveal goals, emotions and philosophies.

Most told the overflow audience in the Arundel Center that they would keep campaign promises of improving the county's schools, limiting suburban sprawl and listening to the public.

There were some unusual moments.

John Klocko, a Crofton lawyer with a reputation as a zoning-policy expert, cried as he reflected on his good fortune as the only incumbent council member to survive the election.

"This is somewhat heart-wrenching for me," said the 7th District Republican. "I've served with people who I feel served honorably. It's my pleasure to be returning."

Bill D. Burlison, a former U.S. representative from Missouri who was defeated in 1980 after articles alleging political favoritism, delivered a discourse on press freedom.

Burlison, who won in the 4th District after losing four local and state elections after he moved to Maryland, said a reporter called PTC before his victory in November to ask him why he keeps running.

"I told him I keep running because I love to serve the people, and I do a darn good job of it," Burlison said. He said that if he sees the reporter again, he will ask, "Why do you keep writing?"

Cliff Roop, a Republican from the 5th District, had the most enthusiastic supporters.

After the councilmen stood with their hands raised to take the oath of office, friends chanted Roop's name in voices that sounded like dogs barking: "Roop! Roop! Roop!"

When he took the microphone to describe his goals, the chorus (( sounded off again: "Roop! Roop! Roop!"

Roop, 44, a service station owner, thanked the "Roop Troop." Then he described his priorities: improving education, controlling growth and building the county's first public-access boat ramp.

Barbara Samorajczyk, a Democrat elected in the 6th District, said she was inspired by the election's results because impassioned residents had defeated big-money interests.

She promised to improve education and allow "sustainable development that protects our environment" while providing jobs for young people.

"To quote Dr. Seuss [the author of children's fiction], 'I said what I meant and I meant what I said,' " Samorajczyk said.

Beidle of the 1st District, owner of a Glen Burnie insurance agency, asked the voters to keep in touch and let her know when she's not meeting their expectations.

"I believe that educating our children and providing good economic growth for our county are our top goals," she said.

A. Shirley Murphy, a Democrat from the 3rd District, said her top goal is to limit the development that is threatening the quality of life on the Pasadena peninsula.

"Due to uncontrolled growth, my district has been strangled by traffic and overcrowded schools," said Murphy, public relations director for a banquet hall.

Upstairs in the Arundel Center, Owens held an open house.

Dozens lined up to file into her office. Inside, she hugged people, shook hands and listened.

"It was a wonderful ceremony," the county executive said. "I really look forward to working with this County Council."

Pub Date: 12/08/98

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