In this season in which we venerate the virtues of sharing and generosity, it was fitting that the four new elected leaders of the counties surrounding Baltimore would join with Mayor Kurt Schmoke, at a breakfast sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee last week, to reaffirm their commitment to the viability of the whole metropolitan region, not just its component pieces.
The magnitude of the change in local elected leadership was underscored when someone noted that Schmoke, who is still in his early 40s and only three years in office, today is the "senior statesman," so to speak, in the hierarchy of local elected leadership.
Each of the four new county executives present -- Robert R. Neall of Anne Arundel, Roger B. Hayden of Baltimore County, Eileen M. Rehrmann of Harford and Charles I. Ecker of Howard -- is confronted with his or her own set of individual and even unique problems, and inevitably the pressure will be on each to address those problems to the exclusion of dimly perceived larger interests. But that larger sense of community they all share was captured by Neall's remark, "what's good for all of us is good for each of us." The other executives reflected the sentiment in their own words.
By that they meant that what's good for Baltimore city is good for the whole region. The continued health and viability of the city, in face of high taxes, high unemployment and high crime arising from high poverty rates, is essential to the quality of life of every jurisdiction that touches the city.
Three of the new executives are Republicans, and, of course, the mayor is a Democrat, but you could detect no hint of partisan difference in the pervasive good will at that breakfast -- nor any suggestion that the spirit is seasonal or ephemeral.