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From: Ellen M. Rennels

Ellicott City

The primary election is just around the corner, and all voters need to be reminded that the school board election is non-partisan, andall voters can vote. On March 3, each voter will select two of the eight school board candidates. The top four vote-getters will be on the November ballot when two new board members will be elected.

The economy and budget problems have hit the Howard County School system hard. The cumulative effects will be strongly felt in the next few years, and strong leadership from the school board will be even more important than ever. The new board members starting their terms in December will have to hit the ground running, with good background knowledge of the system and plenty of time.

To inform the community, PTACouncil sponsored a Candidates Forum on Feb. 5 which will be broadcast on Cable TV, Channel 8, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m. (Storer) and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Mid-Atlantic).

Please take the time to learn about the candidates so that you can make an informed choice. And, be sure to vote on March 3.

(Ellen M. Rennels is the first vice president of the Howard County PTA Council.)


From: Alex Hekimian


After experiencing one of the biggest turnouts ever at a Columbia Association public hearing on Feb. 5, one has to wonder what effect it will have on the CA board of directors when it votes on the proposed budget. Had board members already privately lobbied one other and made up their minds before the hearing took place? Or were they truly open-minded at that hearing?

For example, will CA be responsive to the children who presented a heartfelt plea for a much-needed neighborhood pool in Kendall Ridge? Or will CA instead cater to the well-heeled golfers and build a golf course that would cost about 10 times as much as a pool?

Will CA cut back on its 8.3 percent increase in personnel costs

and remove non-essential projects such as the lakefront reconstruction and so-called "family fun center" from the budget? Or will CA continue wastefulspending and plunge itself even deeper in debt?

Will CA return much of its $2 million year-end surplus to Columbia's taxpayers? Or will CA keep that money for itself?

Will CA give Columbia's residentsa break on their CA property taxes? Or will CA be insensitive to thefinancial plight of our residents?

CA claims that it wants to be a "caring" organization. Let's see who they really care about. Let's see if they care about providing a pool for the children of Kendall Ridge. Let's see if they care about giving Columbia's residents a substantial reduction in their CA taxes. Let's see if CA really has a heart.

(Alex Hekimian is president of the Alliance for a Better Columbia.)

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