Hey, Al Redmer, you aren’t running against Ben Jealous

Will someone please remind Al Redmer Jr. that his opponent in the race to be the next Baltimore County Executive is not Ben Jealous (“In Baltimore County, Redmer and Olszewski again fight over Ben Jealous,” Aug. 24)? Mr. Redmer is running against Johnny Olszewski Jr., but you wouldn’t know that from the main theme of his campaign so far.

Mr. Redmer, a Republican, has been pressing Mr. Olszewski to “clarify” his support for Mr. Jealous, the Democratic candidate for governor running against Gov. Larry Hogan. The banner headline on Mr. Redmer’s website under “news” reads: “Al Redmer, Jr., calls on opponent to finally clarify support for Ben Jealous.”

At best, Mr. Redmer is trying to trade on the popularity of Mr. Hogan in Baltimore County. At worst, Mr. Redmer is trying to tie Mr. Olszewski to Mr. Jealous and portray Mr. Olszewski as too liberal to run Baltimore County. In Baltimore County, that message has a definite racial dog-whistle quality to it.

Did I mention that the headline on the Redmer website is accompanied by large side-by-side photos of Mr. Olszewski and Mr. Jealous, lest anyone be confused about who they are — or what they look like? The last thing that Baltimore County needs is a smear campaign that diverts attention from the issues confronting the county. Rather than worry about whether Mr. Olszewski supports Mr. Jealous, Mr. Redmer should tell voters how he would avert what the county’s own Spending Affordability Committee has identified as a looming financial crisis.

How will he pay to replace or repair the county’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure including schools and roads? What will he do to fix the county’s development review process, which is broken, and, in some cases, corrupted by special interests?

Local government is the government closest to the people. It is about real-life issues: The quality of schools and other public facilities, responsible land use practices, the enforcement of building and environmental codes and adequate police and fire protection. Consequently, a candidate for local office who bases a campaign on attacking an opponent’s political orientation is admitting that he or she could not win a campaign based on the issues. I believe that the voters of Baltimore County are more than smart enough to figure that out.

David A. Plymyer, Catonsville

[Published as a letter to the editor by The Baltimore Sun on August 28, 2018 but not posted to my blog until October 27, 2018.  The date of posting that appears above was backdated to place all posts in the order in which they were written.]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s