Bartenfelder takes the high road

September 13, 2010

"No" is easy, but courage is hard and needs to be celebrated, not denigrated, when it is exhibited. Those words were written just a few weeks ago in The Baltimore Sun by Doug Siglin, the federal affairs director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, about Sen. Ben Cardin.

Mr. Cardin has been vilified recently for his steadfast fight for a bill to clean up the bay that is raising the hackles of some industry groups, whose chorus of negativity threatens to drown out support from many respected members of the scientific community.

Mr. Siglin's words could easily apply to another political battle that is culminating this week in Baltimore County, the contest for county executive between two 16-year warhorses on the County Council, Kevin Kamenetz and Joe Bartenfelder.

Mr. Kamenetz's election strategy has consisted of an ugly, mudslinging smear campaign; a relentless barrage of negative TV advertising and jumbo postcards filled with innuendo, false claims and distorted photographs of his opponent, filling voters with questions and doubts about his Mr. Bartenfelder. His bloated war chest has even paid to create a misleading web site using Mr. Bartenfelder's name, filled with more of the same.

Mr. Bartenfelder, on the other hand, has offered the electorate a positive campaign focused on his 28-year record of accomplishment. Despite ample provocation, he has not permitted a single component of his political campaign to sink below his ethical standards, and he has maintained a consistently affirmative approach to the race.

After the record of votes and horse-trading is over, a political campaign is the ultimate way for the voter to judge a candidate's character. The way the candidate chooses to conduct his campaign reflects on his integrity and personal values.

"'No' is easy, but courage is hard and needs to be celebrated." Joe Bartenfelder has said "No" to the cheap and easy 30-second sound bite. Rather, it takes an hour to sit down with constituents and discuss nuanced positions, listen to each other's concerns, and arrive at a consensus. That is the kind of county executive voters deserve.

Ruth Goldstein, Baltimore

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