Final thoughts on executive primary


As Democratic voters go to the polls today to nominate a candidate for Anne Arundel County executive, we encourage them once more to choose Robert Agee. He knows government, thanks to 24 years of staff work for the county and state. His talent for developing innovative ways of doing things will help Anne Arundel at a time when it needs to find new, inexpensive methods for providing services. His plans for controlling crime, preserving the environment and revitalizing communities are sensible and sensitive to these tight fiscal times.

Mr. Agee served as an aide to then-executive O. James 'f Lighthizer, but the government he proposes bears no resemblance to the Lighthizer administration. Then, a revenue-flush government spent to meet heavy demand for services. Mr. Agee knows we have entered a more frugal era. His position papers specifically outline programs that do not involve new bureaucracies or grand spending.

Neither should having worked for Mr. Lighthizer be considered a detriment. While everything now connected with the name "Lighthizer" in Anne Arundel has become synonymous with excess, his administration accomplished a lot of good that seems to have been forgotten. It transformed the utilities department from a sewage spill-prone nightmare into one of the nation's best. It greatly increased funding for education and police. And, its capital spending on amenities such as Quiet Waters Park paid dividends toward improving the quality of life here.

Del. Theodore Sophocleus, Mr. Agee's strongest competitor and the 1990 Democratic nominee for executive, is a good legislator. But his penchant for wanting to please everyone raises questions about whether he can make tough calls.

Moreover, his support for a controversial 1989 pension law raises concerns about his judgment. The relatively small amount of money he receives as a result of that law is not the issue, as he seems to think; what's troublesome is that, as a councilman, he voted for a bill that benefited himself. He was the only councilman to do so, since his colleagues who also approved the pension change were already vested.

The county faces complex problems in the next four years. Mr. Agee is a problem-solver. Democratic voters should pick him to face Republican John Gary, who is unopposed in the primary, on Nov. 8.

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