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County officials, Rep. Ruppersberger discuss future partnership

When the state legislature reconfigured the eight Congressional districts last fall, District 2 Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger didn't know part of Howard County would be added to his district. But he's not upset that it was.

"I'm really excited about this," the Cockeysville Democrat said during a meeting with local elected officials last week. "Howard County has great representation."

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Ruppersberger, who will represent parts of Elkridge, Hanover, Jessup, Savage and North Laurel if re-elected in November, sat down with Del. Guy Guzzone and Howard County Council members Courtney Watson, Jen Terrasa and Mary Kay Sigaty March 8 to discuss what's going on in Howard County and how he could help. He also later met privately with County Executive Ken Ulman.

Watson, an Ellicott City Democrat, told Ruppersberger about the CSX intermodal facility that could be coming to Howard County. Two of the four sites the state and CSX are considering are in Howard.

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"That's the biggest issue for my district and Dr. (Calvin) Ball's district," she said.

The general agreement among Howard County officials, Watson said, is that the Jessup site, near Montevideo Road, and the Elkridge site, near Race Road, are the two viable options for the facility.

"One is preferred more than the other because of the residential impact," she said, explaining why officials are pushing for the Jessup site over the Elkridge site.

However, Watson noted that the Montevideo site is estimated to cost $75 million more and she believes the Elkridge site because it is cheaper "is the one that CSX wants, big time."

Ruppersberger asked where things were in the process and said he would do what he could to help.

Guzzone, a Columbia Democrat, told Ruppersberger: "I'm actually particularly excited to have you on board because of BRAC."

Ruppersberger, whose district goes from Ft. Meadeto Havre de Grace, is a ranking member of the House intelligence committee and thus is heavily involved in military and defense issues.

"Our (Interstate) 95 corridor, if it's not already, will be the considered cyber capital of the wold," Ruppersberger said.

Getting jobs to come toFt. Meadewas the easy part of BRAC, he noted, explaining that the hard part is figuring out how to deal with infrastructure and traffic.

"It's going to be a real challenge," Ruppersberger said. But the good news, he added, is the cuts to the defense budget are not expected to have much impact in this area.

The officials also discussed development and housing issues. The conversation reminded Ruppersberger of the 17 years he spent working in local government.

"I feel like I'm back in local government," he said. "This feels good."

The talk also turned to the state of politics in Washington — "You have a lot of ideologues, a lot of smart people. But it's just philosophical," Ruppersberger said.

And the 2012 election — "This Republican primary, I've never seen anything like it," Ruppersberger said. "It's incredible. I thought Romney was a lock, and I thought he had a good shot with Obama. And now I just don't see that because they're destroying it."

As the meeting came to a close, Ruppersberger encouraged the officials to contact him whenever they needed assistance, or if there is ever a problem.

"If you're upset with me or anybody, let me know right away," he said. "I believe communication is important."

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