If Howard County voters flock to the polls as predicted, it probably won't be because local races and ballot questions were so scintillating. The presidential race and a statewide abortion referendum are the more likely attractions.
The only sparks that flew in Howard occurred in the Western Maryland-dominated 6th Congressional District, where Democrat Thomas Hattery and Republican Roscoe Bartlett seemed more intent on waging a nasty battle than campaigning on vital issues. (That district includes only western Howard County; eastern county voters will help decide the 3rd Congressional District race.)
Nonetheless, an abundance of good reasons exist for the county's 113,764 registered voters to go to the polls, even beyond the presidential vote.
A non-partisan campaign for two seats on the county school board managed to attract four very good candidates. They include: Linda L. Johnston, a health education professor at Howard Community College; Melvina Brown, a real estate sales representative and former teacher; Delroy Cornick, a retired professor of management at Morgan State University, and Sandra French, an administrative assistant and former teacher.
Their impressive credentials will come in handy, because the winners will face school overcrowding, budget cuts, human relations problems and sex education controversies.
The local ballot questions haven't stirred much dust this season, either. Yet they represent legitimate issues that voters should consider carefully.
Following a popular trend, Republican County Councilman Darrel Drown has proposed a charter amendment that would limit council members to three terms. In other localities, where discontent over incumbents seems more pronounced, term limitation initiatives have met with mixed success.
Another ballot question would amend the charter so that officials could set up a rainy-day account to cover future budget shortfalls.
A companion to that question would restrict the use of excess funds once the rainy-day account has reached its maximum.
If these local issues haven't sparked much local interest, they are important nonetheless. Don't forget to consider them when you go to the polls to fill the highest office in the land.