Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Friday, October 20, 2006

How does one decide for whom to vote?

For me, it's all about issues and what I manage to learn about the positions of the various candidates on the issues in which I am most interested. I don't need to be their friend or for them to relate to me at all. What I care about is whether it seems they will be supportive or in opposition to my views. If they've been around Howard County long enough and have attended enough forums, I'll generally learn enough of what I need to know. Providing there is a certain minimal level of agreement on issues, I'll support and vote for the candidate with whom I most agree on them. If not, I'll either write in a name or not vote for that office.
My main issues relate to civil liberties and to church-state separation, freedom of expression, personal rights, and equality of rights for all. I see the government as our tool and not the reverse. Beyond that, I'm interested in gun control and campaign or governmental reform of various kinds.
Having said the above, of the most closely contested Howard County offices for which I can vote, I have no problem at all supporting Jim Robey for State Senate in LD13 over incumbent Sandra Schrader, Ken Ulman for County Executive over his only real contender (Chris Merdon), and Jen Terrasa for County Council in district 3 over Donna Thewes.
State Senator Schrader has a lengthy and, for me, mainly negative voting record. In supporting aid to non-public schools numerous times, she clearly does not support the church-state separation principle. The most striking example of this is when, in 2002, she voted for an amendment to the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act (SB856) to provide $7 million for such schools. And she has consistently opposed attempts to delete or shift funds designated for non-public schools in the budget bill. She has also consistently opposed attempts to establish a state emergency contraception dispensing program and Delegate Bobo's repeated bills that would seek to control campaign contributions by attributing those of related entities to a single controlling entity. In 2004, she voted in the delegation against introducing the bill that eventually became law (as HB1486) and now requires the filling of early Howard County school board vacancies by election. I could go on if necessary, but that'll suffice for now. I've heard enough from Jim Robey to believe he'll be an improvement on the issues I most care about.
Generally, the kind of issues in which I'm most interested do not arise very frequently at the county level. So there isn't a whole lot to go on for Council members Ken Ulman and Chris Merdon. But I know from a very few of their votes, what they've said at forums, and from Mr. Merdon's responses to the questions asked on this blog that the former would be more supportive on my issues than the latter.
Because neither has a voting record, there is even less to go on for Council candidates Jen Terrasa and Donna Thewes. But their answers to the questions asked on this blog tell me that I'd prefer the former over the latter.
I've been around long enough to conclude that the major political parties stand for nothing per se. That the three candidates above I favor are Democrats is just happenstance. There are candidates who call themselves Democrats who I wouldn't support for dogcatcher and there have been Republicans in my life who I've supported. But that's purely because of their stances on my kind of issues.
I think I've been as specific in my comments above as I'm going to get. But, if pressed, I might expand on the voting record of Senator Schrader.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't have to read past "My main issues relate to civil liberties and to church-state separation..." before guessing it was Ken's post.

For me, one of the bigger differences between Ken Ulman and Chris Merdon is how each handled the smoking in bars issue.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Steve Fine said...

Please tell us more about Sandy's awful voting record. Its a lot more important than Robey's poor manners.

6:14 AM  
Anonymous David W. Keelan said...

Steve, Please won't you enlighten us. Tell us all about it... It will make you feel better.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Evan said...


What of the issues that you care about have been blocked by having Mike Miller as State Senate President (this is actually a question we can each think about because we all know the answer and I am not expecting an answer in the comments). I agree with you that Sandy Schrader's voting record is horrible. However, Robey has not confinced me he will be better. In fact, on the issue of getting metro up to Howard County I suspect from what I have seen he will be a major road block. Add to that he will be a vote for Mike Miller, when based on the results of the Democratic primaries I think there is a real chance to finally get rid of Mike Miller if a couple of the general election races fall the right way.

To me Mike Miller is the biggest block to good legislation getting out of the assembly.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evan, why are you so bent on Metro when far better solutions could be pursued?

Do you really want to spend far more of our tax dollars than necessary for both construction and operation, consume far more greenspace than necessary for ground-level tracks, stations, and parking lots, and invest in a system that's less convenient than cars and other types of mass transit, thereby begetting low ridership?

12:37 PM  
Blogger Evan said...


I have no idea what you are talking about. The metro system I have proposed will not take up additional greenspace. It will be more convenient than cars (particularly as traffic volumne continues to increase). I use the metro every workday and I lived in London for a year and I have traveled all over the world observing traffic flow and human movement patterns. There is no better system than metro. It is doable and we will soon be at a density level currently equal to DC so lets plan to handle it. The current DC metro system was started 40 years ago. If we are planning the future of Howard County for the next 30 years lets get the metro extention process going now.

Roads take plenty of tax dollars and we are running out of space to to put roads to handle our density with those tax dollars going to metro extention we can handle to growth in an enviromentally friendly way that encourages us to absorb the new people moving to the county in already built areas rather than by destroying green space.

Please look again at my metro proposal:

And anon, if you are one of the PRT advocates, please answer me this, why should we go the way of Baltimore that has multiple mass transit systems that do not function or support each other and thus result in less ridership by starting over with a new system, when we a have a great mass transit system that works to build off of? I do not see PRT as proven technology nor more efficient.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

The link didn't seem to work:

My Metro Post

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The metro system I have proposed will not take up additional greenspace"

Where will the track be placed then? Or are you assuming it will all be underground at far greater cost that can't be justified? (Tyson's Corner's 4 mile underground Metro extension will cost $1 Billion per mile.)

Without burying the whole Metro track line extensions, we get screeching wheels, more barrier fencing, possibly ugly noise barrier walls, too?

"It will be more convenient than cars (particularly as traffic volumne continues to increase).

Metro commute:
- drive to a Metro station,
- find a parking spot,
- walk to the station,
- wait for the next train to arrive,
- ride the train with no guarantee of being able to sit,
- stop at each intermediate station,
- get off the train to transfer,
- wait for the transfer train,
- stop at each intermediate station.
Oh, and last time I checked Metro doesn't run 24 hours a day, so you have to mold your schedule around it, not vice versa. Not very friendly to second- and third- shift workers either.

That doesn't sound more convenient than cars.

Why not choose a system better than Metro that will be more convenient than cars, that has:
- stations small enough and inexpensive enough to be placed in each neighborhood (equalling the convenience of London's and Paris' at much less cost) that don't require parking lots to support more regional stations
- self-guiding vehicles that can be used 24 hours a day (no driver needed for each vehicle so less operating cost, too) that are already waiting at stations when passengers arrive, not vice-versa,
- off-line stations so through-traveling vehicles don't have to stop at each intermediate station, providing the same non-stop travel to one's destination as cars (but with vehicles that travel faster than cars)
- elevated track that avoids carving up neighborhoods, allowing existing pedestrian, wildlife, and vehicle movement to be unaffected?

"why should we go the way of Baltimore that has multiple mass transit systems that do not function or support each other and thus result in less ridership by starting over with a new system, when we a have a great mass transit system that works to build off of?"

I'm not saying go the way of Baltimore using light rail here, Metro there, and cars and buses all over. Light rail and Metro are too expensive, too slow, and too inconvenient. I am saying choose a system that is faster, more convenient, and less expensive (both to build and operate) than either light rail or Metro. Such a system, because of its lower cost to build and much, much smaller footprint will allow far greater dispersion of its system throughout our community and region and at a far quicker pace. Having such a widespread system with more local stations, along with it offering greater privacy and safety, and less cost to ride, will make it a system that has far, far greater ridership than either light rail or Metro.

That will decrease the need to build new (expensive) roads and decrease car use, necessary for slowing global warming.

"I do not see PRT as proven technology nor more efficient."

What part of it do you perceive as unproven technology? I guess West Virginia University's PRT system only running since the '70's isn't long enough for you. Or the other four systems in the U.S. that have been running since the '70's, too? What about maglev trains being used in Japan and now China, too, for years? We're about to have German-designed maglev running Balt-BWI-DC in 2010, too. Why not use the same stuff to do PRT for the region?

What about it do you see as inefficient? Each PRT vehicle could weigh as little as 500 lbs and be far more aerodynamic than cars, equalling less energy costs, despite traveling faster.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I decide to vote for someone who earns their position, rather than relying on their family ties to the political elite.

Honesty is most important to me. Not sound-bites or exaggerated resumes.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Austin TX is considering a PRT system as well.

1:28 AM  

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