Term: 4 Years
QUESTION: What is the top problem in your county and what is your strategy for dealing with it?
Elizabeth Bobo (Democrat)
Charles I. Ecker (Republican)
Elizabeth Bobo (D)
5561 Suffield Court, Columbia
Howard County executive, 1986-90; member, Howard County Council, 1977-86; member, Governor's Commission on Growth and Governor's Greenways Commission; recipient of conservation award from Izaak Walton League in 1989, national award for financial management in 1990 and first annual individual award for historic preservation from Howard County Historic District Commission; lawyer. A.
Management of growth in Howard County is the challenge that underlies and affects almost all other issues. Our county has an extremely attractive location midway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., offers a very high quality of service and has been blessed with a generally healthy economy. These attractive features for our county have combined to encourage growth at a more rapid rate than in other areas of the state. We have enacted several provisions to deal with the growth in our county, including: 1) restrictions on development in the environmentally sensitive areas near streams and on steep slopes; 2) interim 18 months limitation of residential building permits; 3) adoption of a new General Plan that provides for preservation of a rural area by dedication to agricultural preservation, establishing a system of greenways and provision for clustering of housing and dedication of large areas of open space; and 4) establishment of requirements for adequate schools and roads to serve new development. Future plans call for comprehensive rezoning of the county and establishment of protection for historic structures and trees.
Charles I. Ecker (R)
5002 Durham Rd. E., Columbia
Consultant with Education and Government Services Inc.; 36 years experience as schoolteacher and administrator; retired in 1989 as deputy superintendent of Howard County Public Schools; selected as one of top 100 school administrators in the country, 1988; PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1964; honorable discharge from U.S. Navy, 1947. A.
Fiscal responsibility is the top problem in the county. The county government has a "spend-it-now-don't-worry-about-tomorrow" practice. The operating budget has increased 88 percent in four years, and the number of positions in county government (excluding the school system) has increased by approximately 550, a 40 percent increase. Future revenue will be reduced due to the economic downturn, and the Linowes Commission's (state commission to study the taxes) recommendations. To bring government spending under control, I will: 1) work with the County Council to establish, in law, a spending affordability committee that will report to the County Council; 2) reduce the size of the county government, especially the executive's and county administrator's staff; 3) require that fiscal, economic and environmental notes be attached to all major legislation; 4) phase out using prior year's surplus to fund the following year's budget; use the surplus to reduce the long-term debt; and 5) place a cap, below the state's permissible 10 percent, on annual increases in property assessments.