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Bi-partisanship sets the County Council agenda [Editorial]

Last week's election has generally brought about rejoicing by Republicans and some licking of wounds by Democrats. In this competitive world, election night boiled down to winners and losers.

Wide Republican victories at the polls locally and nationwide will result in more balance, in Congress and, in Maryland, where Larry Hogan became just the third Republican governor elected here. Commentators treated it sort of like a sporting event — a gain for one side is a loss for the other. Trouble is, when your side loses you get upset and, let's face it, you're not likely going to embrace the opposition.

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Fortunately, that paradigm doesn't characterize the Baltimore County Council, which added a Republican seat last week.

The County Council is about fixing potholes, making zoning decisions and making sure the budget gets passed. It's nearly always functioned as a nonpartisan body. As returning members, Democrat Tom Quirk and Republican David Marks, pointed out this week, they have collaborated on more than 50 different bills and resolutions over the last four years. No gridlock. Just common goals that are community focused. That's because local issues don't carry ideological baggage — there's no Democratic or Republican position on improving schools.

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"There is a lot less partisan division on the local level. We are dealing with issues like schools, government services, firemen and teachers," Quirk said.

Throughout the political spectrum, we're likely going to hear a lot of "it's time now to come together" speeches, and calls to put aside the partisan bickering that seems to permeate politics. But if the last decade is any indication, those hopes will be dashed by a lot of finger-pointing and tongue-wagging once one side tries to make its point. Politics has become more talking than listening, and that's a shame.

Fortunately, we don't see that on the Baltimore County Council. In fact, maybe productivity will even improve in a County Council with cross-aisle alliances.

That's a lesson we wish could be learned in Annapolis and Washington.

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