Anne Arundel County

Maryland Votes 2006

October 18, 2006

Today, The Sun continues its endorsements for the Nov. 7 general election with races for county executive and County Council in Anne Arundel and Harford counties.

In this election, Anne Arundel County voters have an opportunity to make a sharp break with past practices that sometimes appeared to put policy at the service of the politically well-connected.

County executive: As an agent of change, by far the best candidate to lead the next administration is Republican John R. Leopold. Over two decades in the state legislature, Mr. Leopold prided himself on his independence, and he promises to bring that same independence to the executive post. At the same time, he would not disappoint residents who expect their interests on issues such as schools, zoning, transportation and the environment to be priorities.

Bright, hardworking and popular with his north county constituents, Mr. Leopold would bring new faces to county government and trim a layer or so of longtime bureaucrats. He would have to work with what will likely be a divided and diverse council to accomplish his goals, but as a longtime member of the General Assembly minority, Mr. Leopold is well-practiced in the art of seeking consensus and compromise.

Of the seven County Council districts, five have contested seats:

Council District 1: Democrat Daryl Jones, an attorney and former prosecutor active in party politics, would offer the council a fresh perspective and a counterbalance to returning incumbents.

Council District 4: The arrival of new Defense Department employees will most severely affect this western section of the county, and Democrat Jamie Benoit seems best prepared to deal with it. He has made a top priority of figuring out how to pay for the schools, roads, parking and other public services that will be required.

Council District 5: Republican incumbent Cathleen M. Vitale, who has served as both chairwoman and vice chairwoman during her six years on the council, offers the experience and continuity that would be useful with a new county executive.

Council District 6: After recent years of especially poor relations between Annapolis city officials and their county counterparts, Democrat Joshua J. Cohen promises to usher in a new era. Currently a member of the City Council, Mr. Cohen gets along with Mayor Ellen O. Moyer and understands city issues from the inside out.

Council District 7: With development pressures building, this still mostly rural district needs a very aggressive advocate and defender. Republican Edward R. Riley fell far short of bold during his first term, but his intentions are good, he's learned the ropes and is the candidate best suited to serve as the district's voice on the new council.

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