Baltimore County


Election 2002

August 27, 2002

BALTIMORE COUNTY'S next council and new executive will confront issues that have hung over the state's second-largest jurisdiction for some time: managing development in a county without much open space left, keeping urban problems from destroying aging suburban communities, and ensuring that schools maintain high standards for student achievement.

Fortunately, several candidates would bring the experience, new ideas and energy needed to address these potential problems.

County executive: Experience is what James T. Smith Jr., a former chairman of the County Council and circuit court judge, has over Joseph Walters Jr. in the Democratic primary. Mr. Smith knows how government works in the county, and offers practical approaches to issues and problems. He's for wider drug treatment options for the county's estimated 20,000 to 30,000 substance abusers, incentives to make homeowners of Section 8 renters, and creation of smaller academic centers within the county's large middle and high schools to provide students with more personal attention.

There is no Republican primary.

Council District 1: No primaries.

Council District 2: No primaries.

Council District 3: T. Bryan McIntire is one of only two Republican members of the council, but he has learned to work well with the Democratic majority and has delivered for his north county district. Some hard-line conservatives have criticized him for being too mindful of conservation efforts, but his stance is reflective of the county's need to preserve what little open space it has left.

No Democrats filed in this district.

Council District 4: This newly created, majority-black district on the county's west side is home to pressing development and education needs. Influential state Sen. Delores G. Kelley has been backing Kenneth N. Oliver, a former chairman of the county's planning board. But Ella White Campbell, a prominent community activist in the area, has been pushing Clifford J. Collins III, a former NAACP official who has the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. The freshest voice in the seven-candidate field, however, is Penny McCrimmon, who supports all-inclusive drug treatment plans over methadone-only approaches, wants to use housing to help revitalize abandoned commercial strips along the Liberty Road corridor and will challenge the concentration of 46 percent of the state's group homes and foster care facilities in the district.

There is no Republican primary.

Council District 5: This new district combines two old ones in the Towson/Perry Hall area, so one incumbent will lose his seat. On the Democratic side, Councilman Vince Gardina gets the nod over challenger Al Svehla, due to his experience on the council. In the Republican primary, Councilman Wayne M. Skinner has developed the respect of the council's Democratic majority and is therefore able to keep its power in relative check. Bombastic state Del. James F. Ports Jr., who is giving up his legislative seat to run, does not have the collegial nature a councilman needs.

Council District 6: No primaries.

Council District 7: Democrat John A. Olszewski Sr. is chairman of the council now, and a political pal of outgoing County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who has given $6,000 from his state campaign to Mr. Olszewski's re-election effort. Mr. Olszewski has not been the most dynamic chairman, and has trouble effectively running meetings. If re-elected, he should increase his profile and sharpen his management skills. But his opponent, Debi Golden, has unfairly linked Section 8 housing with the east-side district's problems. She is not a viable alternative.

No Republicans filed in this district.

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