Party swap based on concerns over county's direction I...

LETTERS

April 01, 2001

Party swap based on concerns over county's direction

I would like to respond to a recent column by Mike Burns regarding my switch of political parties ("Take your best shot at this moving target," March 18) .

One year ago, I truly believed my reasons for stepping down as vice chair of the Republican Party and leaving the central committee would be understood and taken at face value.

But I find, one year later, that the paranoia surrounding politicians has once again surfaced. It seems no one in the political system is allowed to display any sensitivity or responsibility without his or her intentions being labeled dishonorable by skeptics.

Under Mr. Burns' philosophy that "invariably the Republicans win" no matter what occurs, I would have been better off, politically, remaining silent during the last gun raffle and continuing as vice chair. According to Mr. Burns' theory, that would have offered me a better chance at winning an election.

But, in fact, I truly did feel that a 9 mm. Beretta offered as a prize in a raffle, much as a pie would be offered at a bake sale, was irresponsible behavior for elected officials, given the many acts of violence in this country involving handguns and their many victims -- not to mention the message the raffle sends to young people.

To some, it would seem that remaining a Republican would have been the politically correct thing to do. Many politicians, I am sure, were shocked when I made this decision, and deem my switching parties absurd, especially in a county where Republicans seem to reign supreme. But this was not about political savvy; it was about caring for the welfare of our people.

The fact is that I had decided to give up my party affiliation many months ago and had held discussions with the Democratic Party about announcing that at their yearly fundraiser.

We did not know, at the time, that the Republicans would be holding a second gun raffle, since it had not been announced. We did not know that the press would be aware of my switch, as there would have been no reason for them to be at the dinner.

They were there because the Republicans alerted them to be at the Delegation Breakfast for their "surprise announcement." I have seemingly become the rest of the story.

At no time have I ever said that I was running for public office, as Mr. Burns seems to indicate in his column. I may have said that I have "not burned my bridge" but I have never said there was anything etched in stone.

But the fact is that, having lived here for more than 30 years, I am truly concerned about the state of this county.

I have seen changes which reflect a very dangerous pattern of governing. My being a Democrat or Republican doesn't change that fact. I wish that I had that kind of power.

The reality is that the Republican Party, in its day-to-day governing, alters the meaning of the word "conservatism."

Republican leaders have raised taxes. Traditionally, conservatives cut back government spending, before they do this.

Growth has been allowed to run rampant without a sufficient infrastructure for the security of our citizens. This is not a conservative approach to planning.

Our natural resources are being threatened by industrial development on watershed property. The conservative approach would be to plan for our future needs and to negotiate with Baltimore City for at least temporary relief.

We also have insufficient jobs to supply the needs of families. Conservatives believe that the family comes first and should be adequately provided for.

I could go on telling readers what has happened to this county as a result of the Republican leaders' translation of conservative values, but I won't insult their intelligence. They have to cope with these problems on a daily basis.

But I will say this: My views, political or otherwise, have not changed. I truly believe that I have not left my party, but rather my party has left me.

Had I just laid low, and ridden with the tide, maybe I could have amassed funds and votes like other politicians. But I have not been a politician for more than one year, having given up my position.

What I have been is a concerned private citizen.

My actions are not contrived to sell newspapers or to gain political notoriety. I do the things I do because I care about what happens to this county.

Betty L. Smith

Westminster

The writer is a former member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee.

Owings Mills intruders got what they deserved

I say bravo to the owners of that Owings Mills concrete company for having the guts to defend their property against what the police can't stop ("Victim's attorney seeks arrest in fatal shooting at warehouse," March 22).

If they had called 911, the intruders would have been long gone before the dispatcher decided that a crime was being committed and sent the police.

When a person makes a decision to burglarize someone's property, he takes his life in his hands.

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