Debbie Brunetti and her husband, Joseph, moved from Baltimore to Glen Burnie 10 years ago looking for better schools for their two daughters and "more of a hometown atmosphere."
What they found is a neighborhood so friendly, she said, that residents know each other's schedules and watch out for one another.
"We know each other's car patterns -- when everyone comes and goes," she said. "If someone's car's not there when it should be, we know something's wrong."
So when a pornographic video store moved into the neighborhood last summer -- a development Brunetti felt threatened her family's way of life -- she got mad and she got busy.
The 41-year-old secretary and mother launched a multi-faceted community attack on the business -- the Paradise One Adult Video Center -- with the help of a half-dozen neighbors.
"I was so upset that they tried to pull this off right under our noses, I just saw red," said Brunetti. "I said, 'We have to do whatever we have to do to get them out of here.' "
Their efforts proved successful; the County Council passed legislation last November restricting X-rated video stores to areas zoned for heavy industrial or highway commercial uses. The Glen Burnie video store has until next November to move out of Brunetti's neighborhood.
Brunetti said her foray into political activism provedso satisfying she's energized to tackle new problems and accepted aninvitation last month to serve as one of the seven officers of the Glen Burnie Improvement Association.
"I was truly flattered when they asked me," said Brunetti, who attended meetings for the past two years but had never thought of becoming an officer.
On Jan. 14, theseven new officers, including Brunetti, were sworn in without much ado. None was opposed.
Each will serve a two-year term starting this month.
Brunetti, who will serve as recording secretary, is the only officer elected who has not served as an officer, committee chairman or on the board of directors in the past.
Three of the seven officers, including president, first vice president and treasurer, remain unchanged. Muriel Carter, a long-time Glen Burnie activist and GBIA member, will serve another two years as president; Richard Wengertwill serve again as first vice president and Donald Gibson will remain as treasurer.
Two of GBIA's six board members were elected officers -- Lewin Maddox as financial secretary and Joseph Corcoran as second vice president -- creating two vacancies on the board. And GeniaBryant, who along with husband Harold has been involved with the association for years, was elected corresponding secretary.
An election to fill the vacant board seats will take place at the Feb. 11 meeting. Board of directors' elections are normally held in odd years andelections of officers in even years, said Carter. But the election of two of the board members as officers has made necessary a special election for the board.
Four people are vying for the two slots: Barbara Turner, the education committee chairwoman; Al Lipin, a former state senator and former GBIA president; Roger Little, a Boy Scout troop leader and GBIA carnival volunteer; and John Scherer, a GBIA carnival volunteer and long-time member of the association.
Brunetti said although she joined the GBIA five years ago, she didn't start attending meetings until about two years ago. She was prompted to come, she said, because of the generosity of the association to Glen BurnieSenior High School's band, with which both of her daughters have been involved.
"The GBIA donates $1,000 each year to the band to go toward uniforms," Brunetti said. "That really helps a lot. And I thought, this is so nice, I really should get more involved and go to the meetings."
She might not have gotten involved further had the pornography shop not come along. But getting involved in that battle madeher see the importance of becoming more active.
"I decided it's time to get more involved with the community," she said, adding that as much as she loves Glen Burnie, she realizes it still has its share of problems.
Some of the projects Brunetti hopes to tackle during the next two years include decreasing the number of illegal signs cluttering the landscape and jump-starting the urban renewal project fordowntown Glen Burnie.
In addition to "cleaning up" Glen Burnie's image by making it physically more appealing, Brunetti wants to work on some diversions for teen-agers.
She said teen-agers in the community don't have enough to do, which often creates tension between the youths and business owners, who complain the teens loiter around their stores.