Two leaders of the Harford County Council, often on different sides of the political fence, are vying for the office of council president.
It's an advantage for voters, because their performance and records have been evident for four years. The downside is that one of them will lose, depriving the council of her contributions.
Democrat Theresa Pierno won a first term in 1990 on a strong pro-environment, controlled-growth platform shared by several other newcomer victors. She quickly emerged as the leader of that faction, originating legislation such as the tree-replacement bill and zoning notification measures, and was picked by Republican Council President Jeffrey Wilson as his chief ally.
Her ties to Mr. Wilson, who did not seek re-election, were useful over the past four years. But now Mrs. Pierno must show that she is not a Wilson clone and repair badly strained relations with County Executive Eileen Rehrmann, while pushing forward with her own legislative agenda.
We believe she is capable of doing so, while providing confident leadership and bringing together frequently divisive groups on the council. If her proposals have provoked strong opposition, she has also been able to find ways to reach a compromise and get them passed. That is the essence of a political leader and of the council president, who must represent the consensus of the six other members, who are also elected by countywide vote.
Joanne Parrott has been an asset to the council for eight years, helping to encourage a Republican resurgence in Harford County. But she's been a minority voice this past term, even with a Republican majority, and has tended to goad the council leadership instead of working for compromise. A hard worker with broad experience, she sometimes focuses on the insignificant, which discourages even those who share her basic positions.
For her part, Mrs. Pierno must recognize that the council president is a part-time job, with commensurate pay, and that the County Council is not the county executive. She will have to temper her zeal for personal programs at times, to secure a cooperative council majority, but must provide clear direction on growth control issues that are of dominant concern to Harford County residents.
For her leadership capabilities and her proven insight into difficult land use and zoning issues over the next term, we endorse Theresa Pierno for president of the Harford County Council.
Tomorrow: Legislative Districts 6 and 7.