Anne Arundel County

August 31, 2006

At a moment when Anne Arundel County is poised for a huge growth spurt yet trying to overcome development mistakes of the past, a large bipartisan field of candidates has emerged.

County executive: For the top job, which is about to come open, the clear choice in a two-man Democratic primary is George F. Johnson IV, the three-term county sheriff credited with greatly enhancing the professionalism of the office. Hard-working, popular and a familiar figure throughout the county, Mr. Johnson promises to serve as a conciliator in a post requiring an ability to bring people together.

He is also the only county executive candidate to endorse the creation of a monthly fee on property owners dedicated to the repair of creek beds and shorelines eroded by stormwater to curb the flow of pollutants into the Chesapeake Bay.

In the more crowded Republican field, the standout is Del. John R. Leopold, a bright and hardworking legislator who was initially considered a loner but who has matured over his two decades in the General Assembly. Mr. Leopold's constituent service and his expertise on a number of issues, including the environment, recommend him.

Of the county's seven council districts, only three have primary contests this year.

Council District 1: It's hard to go wrong in the Democratic race to represent the northwest corner of the county, including Linthicum, between Rik Forgo and Daryl Jones. Each offers commitment, enthusiasm and fresh ideas. But Mr. Forgo, a systems engineer, is the best choice because his leadership in local civic groups gives him greater depth on issues, such as the need for a stormwater management fee.

Council District 4: Democrats here also have a tough choice. The edge goes to Devin F. Tucker, who wants to speak for the working-class communities of Laurel, Jessup and Maryland City often eclipsed in county politics. One of his priorities is addressing the $1.5 billion construction and maintenance backlog for county schools, possibly by rebalancing student population.

Of two Republicans seeking the council seat, David Alan Tibbetts of Odenton, also a supporter of the stormwater fund, has by far more local experience than his opponent, Sid Saab, who runs small businesses in Florida as well as Maryland.

Council District 6: For the Annapolis-area district, second-term city Alderman Joshua J. Cohen gets the nod in a three-way Democratic primary. Mr. Cohen reflects the frustration of Annapolis residents at what seems out-of-control development in both the city and the county. He's urging that the development process be more transparent and kinder to the environment.

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