Balto. County executive to hold town hall meeting in Woodlawn

Forum to give residents chance to share concerns

October 09, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. plans to take a step toward fulfilling one of his major campaign promises tonight by holding a town hall meeting with residents in Woodlawn.

Smith promised as a candidate to make county government more responsive to residents.

To do that, he planned to hold monthly roundtable meetings in different communities so that the executive, county department heads and other high-ranking officials could hear residents' concerns firsthand and find ways to address them.

Smith's spokeswoman, Renee Samuels, said that tonight's meeting is a bit of a trial effort - the executive will try to limit the focus of the meeting to a few issues to avoid a free-for-all and won't try to broadcast it live on Comcast, as he had once suggested.

Smith has attended the meetings of a number of community groups in his nine months in office, and he plans to organize more of these town hall gatherings, Samuels said yesterday.

"We hope to continue the open dialogue between county government and residents, and help them understand and know that county government works for them," she said.

The meeting will be open to the public, but the executive has chosen 10 leaders from community groups, churches, schools and the business community to participate in the initial stages of the discussion. At the end, Smith plans to open the discussion to the crowd.

Van Ross, president of the Woodlawn Improvement Association, said she plans to push the executive on community concerns about overdevelopment and absent landlords.

"We're going to be the guinea pigs, I guess," she said.

"We don't really know what to expect ourselves, but I'm sure something positive will come of it."

The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in the Woodlawn Community Center, 2131 Woodlawn Drive.

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