Howard County Executive James N. Robey talked about all he has done in four years, while Steven H. Adler and Clark J. Schoeffield - his two Republican opponents - talked about all he has done wrong, at their first joint appearance last night before an Ellicott City civic association.
Democrat Robey said he has slowed growth with new numerical housing limits in the county General Plan, funded every new classroom the school board asked for, raised teacher and police salaries to keep valuable employees working and provided a new emergency radio system - all "while keeping your taxes low."
Adler said Robey had spent the county from surplus to deficit, increased the bond debt and the size of county government. Too many police are in desk jobs while crimes such as robbery and burglary are increasing, Adler said, adding that he opposed plans for a new county government complex in Ellicott City. "I'm totally against it," he said.
Schoeffield, who lives in the Worthington neighborhood and serves on the community association's board, said he decided to run for public office because growth is out of control, affecting every aspect of county life.
"I'm not part of the establishment. We need someone like ourselves in office," he said.
The Worthington Communities Association forum at Worthington Elementary School drew about 40 people to see the executive candidates, as well as two school board hopefuls and County Councilman Christopher J. Merdon, an Ellicott City Republican.
No primary opponent
Robey, 62, has no opponent in the Sept. 10 primary. Adler, 49, and Schoeffield, 40, will face off in the GOP primary, and the winner will oppose Robey in the Nov. 5 general election.
Adler, an operating partner of Savage Mill and a successful businessman in the big-and-tall clothing line, was urged to run by the county Republican Party. He has been endorsed by both Republican council members, Allan H. Kittleman, from the western county, and Merdon.
Robey and Adler agreed on growth controls, and Adler accused Schoeffield of "trying to demonize builders and developers" by blaming them for all the county's problems. The building industry is vital to the county's welfare, he said, because of the jobs it provides. Slapping big new impact fees or other costs on builders will increase the rents and prices of new apartments and homes because those costs will be passed along, he said.
Schoeffield denied the accusation, but he insisted that the county has allowed too much new housing in older areas, straining infrastructure.
Adler slammed Robey for increasing the budget for police nearly 50 percent during his term, while the county is seeing double-digit increases in robberies, car thefts and burglaries. He pledged not to increase county taxes, while "reducing the size of county government, starting with the county executive's office."
'Not staying here"
Adler said his daughter makes several thousand dollars more teaching in Montgomery County than she would in Howard, and she lives in Anne Arundel County, where she found a new townhouse for $150,000. "Our best and brightest are not staying here," Adler said.
Robey retorted that his staff is no larger than that of former County Executive Charles I. Ecker, and that crime per 100,000 residents is down, not up.
Schoeffield said he would cut taxes "and still provide the services we need" by pushing costs onto builders and offering tax incentives to encourage people to educate their children privately, thereby reducing the strain on the public schools.
Resident Linda Hayes said she had not gotten an answer to her question for Adler. "How would you spend less and protect the citizens more?" she had asked.
"I got how we're going to spend less money and improve education," she said.