For this young councilman, politics is a candy store

Enthusiastic and eager, Warner sees town post as epitome of service

July 26, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Ryan Warner, Manchester's rookie town councilman, may be on the disabled list for the rest of the softball season, but a broken arm won't dim the 24-year-old's passion for politics.

Warner's fractured arm -- a batter ran into his outstretched, upper left arm in a collision at first base -- has been surgically repaired. He has returned to his job as a retirement planning associate for T. Rowe Price, sporting a football-size elastic bandage on his arm.

"I guess I'm done for this season," Warner said with a grin last week. "I can always play Nintendo."

A half-dozen years ago, Warner played football and was captain of the wrestling team at Westminster High School.

He earned a degree in economics at Towson University in 1998 and worked as a legislative aide for Del. Joseph M. Getty, a Manchester Republican, during the past legislative session in Annapolis. Warner's boyish face belies his serious tone when speaking of his passion for politics.

How serious?

Warner and his wife, Lisa, postponed their honeymoon for a few days until after the primary in September, when he was elected as the youngest member of the Republican Central Committee.

He is the youngest town councilman in Carroll County. James Peck, a research specialist with the Maryland Municipal League, said last week that Warner is "certainly one, if not the youngest in the state."

Warner said he began checking to see whether he is the youngest but hasn't completed his research.

He's been too busy serving as vice president of the Carroll County Republicans Club and the Tri-District Republicans Club and running successfully for the Manchester Town Council in May.

"I honestly don't know why I developed an interest in politics," Warner said one evening last week from his split-level home in the Crossroads Overlook development. "I just remember when I was about 6 years old, watching Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan on TV.

"I asked my father, `What's a Democrat? What's a Republican? What's a liberal? A conservative?' and he explained it in terms I could understand."

Warner recalled always enjoying trips to Annapolis and Washington, where he could walk through government buildings and soak up history.

"I liked sports, but I just knew I wanted to be involved in government, part of a working democracy," he said.

Getty said he first noticed Warner during the 1998 election campaign.

"I was very impressed with Ryan's street smarts, his sense of humor and his personality," Getty said. "He brought enthusiasm to the process and attracted youthful volunteers to help him and all of us.

"Ryan was very capable and interested. That's why I hired him to work through the legislative session."

Warner was experienced, having been an intern in fall 1994 for U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, a Montana Republican. He said that experience "fueled my fire. My interest grew to be a passion, and that passion is not fading."

But it is town politics Warner called the "epitome of public service."

"For $500 a year [as a councilman], you certainly aren't in it for the money," he said. "You've got no secretary, so you have to do the research, the typing, all the little things yourself."

For Warner, such tasks are as much fun as being turned loose in a candy store.

"I think [being a councilman] is more fulfilling than being a congressman, where you're only one fish in a big sea, one of 535," he said.

In town politics, Warner said he can get to know many of his constituents, develop an understanding of what's happening, interact with people and receive feedback.

"It all makes you better able to make informed choices," Warner said.

For now, he has no designs for moving onward and upward in the political arena.

"I won't say `never,' but I also enjoy a family life, a social life and leisure time," he said.

In his public-servant role, he is convinced that less intrusive government means more individual freedom.

"We need to avoid enacting more laws, more restrictions, trying to resolve every little problem with another law," Warner said.

Many problems, such as noise-control complaints, ought to be taken care of with civility and common sense, he said.

That would leave him more time to push forward on more complex issues, such as persuading the governor to restore funding for a Manchester bypass.

"A bypass would improve the quality of life for town residents, but a bypass really would benefit those who travel through Manchester," he said. "It would get the dump trucks and heavy traffic, the big trucks off the town's Main Street and allow residents to enjoy a quieter, less congested life."

Another issue that concerns Warner is providing more and better water for the town. He believes annexation could help as long as the quantity of water on a property is greater than the amount being used by those developing it.

"It's going to help the town," Warner said, also noting the additional tax revenue the annexed property would provide.

As for skateboarding, a sport banned within town limits, Warner would like to see a "reasonable compromise" worked out.

He sees no need to spend a lot of money on a skateboarding park, but town officials ought to find a way to let young people have the freedom to skateboard, he said.

"Don't count me as one of those young skateboarders," he said, grinning and patting his broken arm.

Pub Date: 7/26/99

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