endorsements 10/29/00

October 27, 2000

Election Endorsements 10/29

See also: Why Herald-Mail endorses candidates

For Congress Roscoe Bartlett

In his quest for a fifth term as the 6th District's Congressional representative, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett remains in step with the wishes of his constituents in conservative Western Maryland.

In what must be a lonely crusade against a Congressional budget process that lumps unrelated matters together in one bill like some great pot of legislative goulash, Bartlett has stood firm, saying "no" to what he considers bad compromises and refusing to be a "get-along, go-along" sort of politician.

That's what he feels voters here want, and in reply to Democratic challenger Don DeArmon's accusation that he's out of step with the rest of the Maryland Congressional delegation, Bartlett said this:

"If I weren't out of step with the rest of the delegation, I wouldn't be re-elected. This is a conservative district."


So it is, and Bartlett has been re-elected because voters here know that there's no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to fund these bills, and that every piece of pork in them is ultimately paid for by the taxpayers.

For the next term, however, we would like to see a few items addressed, including:

- Reform of the legislative process. If the Republicans retain control of Congress, Bartlett must make a push to change the way appropriations bills are put together. It is commendable to vote against bad bills, but it's time to change the process so that the good isn't thrown out with the bad. He has some seniority now and it's time to put it to good use.

- Get the former Fort Ritchie property transferred to Pen mar Development, the entity created to bring new jobs there to replace those lost when the base closed. Everybody involved seems to have a different explanation as to why it hasn't happened yet. Bartlett needs to break this log jam.

- Finally, and perhaps most important, Bartlett needs to get this area in line for funds to widen Interstate 81 and lengthen the runway at the Hagerstown Regional Airport. Both of these are keys to future economic development in the county. If the county is going to continue to be a major distribution center, with air service to major cities, state-of-the-art facilities are needed.

For school board:

Hayes, Nipps, Ober, Williams

Election campaigns are a chance for candidates to lay out their plans, to tell citizens what directions they want to take in the future. But they're also about remembering and looking back at what happened during the previous term. And anyone who takes an objective look at what the Washington County Board of Education has accomplished during the past four years must acknowledge that the system is headed in the right direction.

After a highly critical audit of the school system by Phi Delta Kappa International of Bloomington, Ind. in 1997, the school board recruited a team of educators, citizens and local business leaders to put together a strategic plan to correct the problems uncovered by the audit.

Since then, test scores have improved, with an increasing number of children reading at or above their grade levels and SAT scores besting state and national averages. Salem Avenue Elementary School won honors (and national attention) as a Blue-ribbon School and the Career Studies Center has been transformed into the Technical High School with state-of-the-art computer program students are competing to get into.

None of this is an argument for complacency, nor are we saying that the board by itself is responsible for this progress. Teachers, students and the county commissioners, who have provided lots of new money to improve teachers' salaries, deserve a pat on the back, too. But the board has provided the direction and stayed the course when many times it would have been easier to waffle.

Because of that, we are endorsing two incumbents, Edwin Hayes and Doris Nipps. Hayes was the driving force behind the addition of an elementary reading program, while Nipps has provided the invaluable service of keeping the board on track toward making the necessary, but sometimes unpopular decisions that need to be made. Both deserve to see the good things they've helped to start through to the end.

That said, when it comes to communications with parents and teachers, the school board seems to have a tin ear, taking months to reply to a list of teacher concerns politely presented to it by Sharon Chirgott, head of the Washington County Teachers Association. And parents who've participated in the new budget process in which schools have been encouraged to create a "wish list" are beginning to get the idea that this isn't a serious request for their input, but just a feel-good exercise that really means little.

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