WHEN IT CAME to electing their county leaders Tuesday, voters in Prince George's and Montgomery counties were anything but ambivalent. Jack B. Johnson and Douglas M. Duncan both cruised to resounding victories, bolstered by new and generally friendly faces on their county councils. Both men are talking about locking arms for legislative leverage in Annapolis. With what look to be major power shifts coming in the House of Delegates and state Senate, the two counties may well enjoy unprecedented strength; the old Baltimore Tilt could at last vanish for good. Still, any great expectations will be tempered or dashed by the huge budget hole that will greet the next governor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
In Montgomery especially, voters gave Mr. Duncan the clear go-ahead he campaigned hard for: a solid council majority that shares his transportation views and will support an intercounty connector route as the centerpiece of a balanced roads-and-transit package. The county executive says one of the first items of business for the new council should be a resolution supporting the ICC. Mr. Johnson expresses more cautious support for a connector but notes that after sitting on the Beltway for 15 minutes yesterday, he became aware more than ever of the need to approach transportation issues as regional matters. Mr. Ehrlich's history of support for the ICC is long and strong. But all this transportation harmony won't generate the money to get moving.
On this and other matters, Mr. Johnson, whom we did not endorse, is striking the right note in victory, pledging "an upbeat administration, unifying around concerns of all the people who share high expectations," and who want to see better schools, more sensitivity and higher morale on their police force, new economic development and improved health care and housing. No specifics yet, but Mr. Johnson has been soliciting advice from the legislative delegation and from the school superintendent and members of the school board and County Council. And he says he can and will work well with Glenn F. Ivey, who is stepping into the state's attorney job that Mr. Johnson now vacates. He plans to announce a transition team next week, which should tell us more about his agenda. But his willingness to listen and lead holds promise.