By denying Michael A. Weal the Democratic nomination for state's attorney last September, Howard County voters were sending a message.
They want to see substantial change in the way this county law enforcement agency is run after four terms under the stewardship of William R. Hymes, who is stepping down. Widely believed to be one of the more lax state's attorneys offices in Maryland, Howard's office has suffered from an erosion of integrity.
Mr. Weal did little to convince his party's voters he would offer ample change when it was revealed that he had promised prized positions in the office to attorneys who later became prominent campaign supporters.
Voters can now turn their attention to picking the candidate who can best bring about the change needed to restore the reputation of the office. Both Democrat Dario J. Broccolino and Republican Marna McLendon have made reform the centerpiece their campaigns. Both have impressive credentials to back up their claim that they are the best choice for the job.
As a Republican, however, Ms. McLendon may represent the best chance for true reform after 16 years of Democratic leadership, coupled with a reasoned adherence to conservative law enforcement principles. Moreover, Ms. McLendon's experience as a former police officer, assistant state's attorney and county solicitor provides her with a broad perspective on many levels within the legal system.
Ms. McLendon says she wants to make the state's attorney's office more aggressive and committed to working with the county administration, police department and community to address crime.
We are particularly intrigued by her idea of an outreach program that couples community policing with what she calls community prosecution. Her track record indicates she will do the job, and we support her.
As a state's attorneys' coordinator, Mr. Broccolino has an extensive background and understanding of the legal system. But the focus of his career has been more as an academician than as an administrator. Because it will take a stronger hand than his to shake up Howard's state's attorney's office, we endorse Ms. McLendon.
, Tomorrow: Board of Education