Balto. Co. government

Election 2002

October 23, 2002

BALTIMORE COUNTY'S new leadership team will need to manage development in a jurisdiction without much open space left, keep urban problems from damaging suburban communities and ensure quality education for all students.

The Sun's choices in executive and council races should be up to the challenge.

County executive: Big shoes await Baltimore County's new executive.

Departing chief C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, now running for Congress, kept the county's books balanced, stood strong in the face of opposition on myriad issues and fought for reinvestment in the county's most economically vulnerable areas.

But some of the problems the county faces could probably benefit from a different approach.

That's one reason Republican Douglas B. Riley merits endorsement over Democrat James "Jim" T. Smith Jr. Mr. Riley would declare a moratorium on residential development, would review county government structure and would likely indulge more give-and-take with the community over his initiatives than Mr. Smith would. He's also a moderate conservative who has served on the council and worked well with its members.

The other strong argument for Mr. Riley as executive is the need for more political parity among county leadership. The council is likely to remain overwhelmingly Democratic, but a Republican in the executive's chair could be an effective check against abuses of power or a monotony of ideas.

Council District 1: Democrat Stephen G. Samuel Moxley gets the nod here, based on his previous experience on the council and his deep understanding of housing, drug and development issues.

Council District 2: Democrat Kevin Kamenetz does not face opposition.

Council District 3: Republican T. Bryan McIntire faces no opposition.

Council District 4: Democrat Kenneth N. Oliver is basically a shoo-in in this newly created majority-black district on the county's west side. And his former government experience should serve him and the district's citizens well.

But Republican Gail M. Thies deserves credit for insisting there should be a real choice in this overwhelmingly Democratic area. Her creative ideas about preservation of farm tracts, growing small business and the county's tourism potential should not go unnoticed by Mr. Oliver.

Council District 5: Former councilman Wayne M. Skinner, one of only two Republicans on the council, lost his primary bid to the bombastic James F. Ports Jr., who is simply not an acceptable alternative for the council.

Democrat Vince Gardina, the other incumbent in this new district that combines two old ones, is a steady, thoughtful presence on the council and deserves re-election.

Council District 6: Democrat Joseph Bartenfelder faces no opposition.

Council District 7: Democrat John A. Olszewski Sr. faces no opposition.

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