Baltimore County

Maryland Votes 2006

September 01, 2006

Like many areas in Maryland, Baltimore County faces challenges related to growth, revitalization of older neighborhoods, demographic changes and quality education.

County executive: Democrat James "Jim" T. Smith Jr., who was elected in 2002, is a former member of the County Council as well as a former Circuit Court judge. His relatively quiet judicial temperament is matched by some sharp political instincts. In an admirable first term, he has pushed Smart Growth, supported schools and law enforcement and kept the county financially healthy. He recovered from a somewhat rocky start by quickly coming to the aid of victims of Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003, well before the state offered help. By providing additional resources, he has helped bring the county's crime rate down. And his model economic development efforts have brought thousands of jobs to the county and given communities a major voice in redevelopment projects.

His Democratic opponents are Alexander Bob Page Jr., a retired judge; Ronald E. Harvey, a county maintenance worker; and John F. Weber III, a former county parks director. None of these candidates can match Mr. Smith's experience and stewardship of the county.

FOR THE RECORD - n an editorial last Friday endorsing James T. Smith Jr. for Baltimore County executive in the Democratic primary, the profession of one of his opponents, Ronald E. Harvey, was misstated. Mr. Harvey is a county personnel analyst. The Sun regrets the error.

On the Republican side, Clarence William Bell Jr., a career officer and commander with the Maryland State Police, is a political novice who believes in planned development and protecting elderly and fixed-income homeowners from increasing property assessments. He's running against Norman J. Cioka, a county employee who favors slots and slower development.

Of the seven council districts, five have contested primaries:

Council District 2: Two Republicans are vying for the chance to unseat the Democratic incumbent in the district that covers Towson. Lisa Marquardt, a former teacher turned lawyer, has a firm grasp of the issues, including the challenges of absorbing diverse students into the school system. A seasoned volunteer and community worker, Ms. Marquardt is a better choice than Tim Thompson, a self-employed financial consultant who has also been active in the community.

There is no Democratic primary.

Council District 3: T. Bryan McIntire, the council's only Republican, has represented the Hunt Valley area since 1994. He has a nominal challenger in Michael J. Wagner, but Mr. McIntire serves his district and the council well.

There is no Democratic primary.

Council District 4: In 2002, Democrat Kenneth N. Oliver narrowly defeated Penny McCrimmon in a crowded field to represent this west-side area that includes Randallstown. Now, as the two go head-to-head, Mr. Oliver has some accomplishments to show for his first term. The bank executive is helping to revitalize the Liberty Road corridor by luring major stores to moribund shopping plazas and has pushed for a large community center that will break ground next year. Ms. McCrimmon, a small-business coordinator for the state, has worked admirably to reduce the district's high concentration of group homes. But Mr. Oliver now deserves re-election.

There is no Republican primary.

Council District 5: Vince Gardina, an environmental engineer and the council's longest-serving member, has been a fierce advocate for controlling growth both in his district, covering Perry Hall, and throughout the county. He also supports redistricting to ease school overcrowding, an often unpopular but perhaps necessary position. His opponent in the Democratic primary is Kathy Reiner Martin, a systems analyst who has been an effective volunteer and advocate for environmental and homeless causes. She takes a careful and responsible approach to preserving open space, but Mr. Gardina deserves renomination.

There is no Republican primary.

Council District 7: Both John "Johnny O" Olszewski Sr., the current council chairman, and his challenger, Bernice Myer, support careful redevelopment of older communities such as Dundalk, which is covered by the district. But Mr. Olszewski, a safety compliance officer, has already been a force in revitalizing Dundalk and Essex. And he's wisely anticipating the need for more and improved housing in an area that will be affected by relocating military personnel. Ms. Myer, a retired police detective, wants to lower property taxes, particularly for senior citizens. She's becoming more of a political force in the district, but Mr. Olszewski should get the Democratic nod.

There is no Republican primary.

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