Incumbency, once a venerable condition for a politician, may be a plague this time around. That could have unfortunate consequences for Republican Darrel E. Drown, who is running for a second term representing the First District on the Howard County Council.
Mr. Drown's northeastern county district, which includes Ellicott City and Elkridge, has been well served by his tenure. It would be a shame if residents failed to return him to the council as a result of misplaced anger.
During Mr. Drown's first term, an agreement was finally hashed out over the much-delayed Route 100 extension. Moreover, Mr. Drown's common-sense approach to other road projects and to the general economic well-being of the county are part of a vision that has Howard's prosperity at its core. His support for a regional incinerator to solve the county's solid waste problems also appears to be the best course, environmentally and financially, for Howard and the Baltimore metropolitan area as a whole.
George L. Layman, his Democratic opponent for the seat, is a capable, sincere public official who currently serves on the county Democratic Central Committee. He also is director of the Montgomery County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. But his opposition to incineration and support for landfilling seems inadequate given the sorry history of landfills in Howard County. And although he supports the Route 100 project, his focus on the remaining details that need to be ironed out with affected communities would send the wrong message about the county's resolve in completing this necessary project.
Due to overcrowded schools and rising fear over crime, conditions fueled by an increase in population, First District voters have turned their attention to growth.
Mr. Drown, a financial planner who used to work in the school budget office with Charles Ecker, offers a continuation of County Executive Ecker's managed-growth approach. Mr. Layman offers a less-certain future with further restrictions on residential development, although he does not espouse the kind of radical, no-growth approach trumpeted by more extreme county candidates. Mr. Drown's candidacy promises experience and continuity. He should be rewarded with a second term.
4( Tomorrow: County Council District 2.