Columbia's latest challenge

Turnout: Voters have another chance to shape the Columbia Council -- and their futures.

April 06, 2001

ONCE AGAIN, Columbians will go to the polls with a chance to reconstitute the 10-member council that tries to manage their municipal affairs.

The April 20-21 elections in Columbia will put seven new members on a council that has endured a yearlong battering. Issues of leadership -- or its absence -- should drive another unprecedented turnout.

Last year's voting exceeded the norm but fell short of brisk. Then, voters were appalled to read accounts of a council and a Columbia Association president at loggerheads and, seemingly, unable to find their way out of an acrimonious wilderness.

The last election resulted in the departure of a CA president who had lost the confidence of the council and of the voters.

The new council, though it had a promising start, failed to reach consensus on a number of issues and found itself obliged to abandon its costly search for a new president.

The selection of Maggie Brown, a longtime CA vice president, has stabilized matters.

But critically important questions will continue to confront the council.

Talented people in Howard County's largest community, fortunately, are eager to serve in unpaid positions that sometimes turn the well-intentioned into targets.

Columbians comprise a talented constituency, and the array of candidates seems perfectly representative.

They include a retired Health Care Finance Administration lawyer; a University of Maryland graduate student; a training director for an environmental group; a jewelry designer; a coordinator at the Howard County Office of Substance Abuse Impact Services; a data base administrator; and a retired General Services Administration official.

A new council could find the chemistry to productively confront an array of issues that, if solved, will give the city a dose of professionalism.

If you care, you have to vote.

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