Term: 4 Years Salary: $70,500
QUESTION: What is the top problem in your county and what is your strategy for dealing with it?
(1 seat) Robert R. Neall (R) P.O. Box 85, Davidsonville Age: 42
Chairman, Governor's Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 1989-90; vice president, development and external affairs, The Johns Hopkins Health System, 1987-90; member, Maryland Transportation Authority, 1987-present; member, Maryland House of Delegates, 1975-87, minority leader, 1982-87, minority whip, 1978-82, member, House Appropriations Committee, 1975-87; named Maryland's Best Legislator, Baltimore Magazine, 1986; BA, University of Maryland, 1972; AA, Anne Arundel Community College, 1971; enlisted man, U.S. Navy, 1967-68; graduate, Annapolis High School, 1966.
A: Uncontrolled county spending is our most vexing problem. The County Council has increased spending a whopping 104 percent in the last eight years while property taxes have leaped 134 percent -- and both have risen far faster than our ability to pay for them! We need to better set our priorities. How? First, I would take direct control over the budget, just as I did on the Appropriations Committee in the House of Delegates. Second, I would put the brakes on the growth of the county's budget. This kind of control would result in less and less of our paychecks going to pay for county government. Third, I would want to index the growth of the county's budget to less than the growth of personal income in the county. In simple terms, under my plan, as our income pie grows over the next few years, the county would take a smaller and smaller slice. Theodore J. Sophocleus (D) Brentwood Rd., Linthicum Age: 51
Pharmacist, owner, Ted's Pharmacy, 10 years; BS, pharmacy, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, registered pharmacist; member, Anne Arundel County Council, eight years; former director, professional services and management development, Read's Drug Stores, 18 years; past president, Overlook PTA; Crestwood Improvement Association; Anne Arundel Optimist; Curtis Bay Athletic Club; board member, American Cancer Society, Red Cross, Sheltered Workshop, Sub Area Health Committee, Drug and Alcohol Advisory Commission, Henryton State Hospital, Exchange Club; several Democratic clubs; Elks, Moose, Lions; several improvement associations; married, 26 years; three children, one grandson, all living in Anne Arundel County.
A: Quality of life equals controlled growth plus fair tax program plus aggressive environmental program plus strong anti-substance abuse program plus respect and compassion -- includes all aspects of government. A reasonable tax program must be implemented to ensure affordability. To that end, the assessment cap must not exceed 5 percent; spending must not exceed 5 percent to 8 percent (over previous year); a spending affordability commission must be put into place. Work must begin with the state to increase the home tax credit. An aggressive environmental program would include recycling, composting, reforestation, bay grass replanting, storm water management improvement and the hiring of an environmental ombudsman and a conservationist. An aggressive substance-abuse program, which expands alternative opportunities for our children as well as parent-to-parent and parent-to-child involvement to win the war against drugs. Programs would include a user-fee day-care program, an expanded DARE drug awareness program and increased mini-grant funding.