Resolute and unified

Howard County: Voters are represented in Annapolis by remarkable diversity of viewpoints.

January 12, 2000

AS ALWAYS this year, when Maryland lawmakers convene for the start of their annual 90-day sojourn, Howard County's fortunes will depend heavily on unity.

With some of the legislature's most experienced, outspoken and partisan members, the county has as strong a team of individual lawmakers as any county in the state.

Few are in powerful positions, though, so the group must act together to maximize influence.

Democrats, to cite the biggest threat, must avoid the temptation to cash in the benefits of majority status at the expense of their colleagues.

Unity has prevailed in the past because parochial concerns of district and neighborhood -- and of the individual representative -- have been addressed in due course.

Howard's representatives have been able to avoid major personal embarrassment -- and to establish themselves as respected leaders on various issues. Few delegations are more distinctly diverse in partisan and political cast.

What senator or delegate is more devoted to bedrock Democratic principles than Del. Elizabeth Bobo, the former Howard County executive, for example?

On the other side of the partisan divide, no member is more resolutely Republican than Del. Robert Kittleman, farmer and minority leader, whose devotion to the GOP is as fierce and deeply felt as Ms. Bobo's loyalty to Democrats.

His softer debating tones are sharpened by his lawyer-legislator sidekick, Del. Robert Flanagan, one of the assembly's most adroit analysts and commentators.

In Del. Shane Pendergrass, a former County Council member, Howard claims a resolute defender of religious freedom, an experienced representative of great tenacity.

The amiability of Del Frank Turner is an asset as well.

In the Senate, minority leader Martin Madden enjoys the confidence of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

Mr. Madden was a legislative architect of Maryland's promising approach to welfare reform.

He is another example of how the Howard group has managed the ultimate political chore: Advancing your own career without sacrificing the needs of the people you represent.

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