One of the many, many reasons why I opted against running in HD 12 was because I believed, correctly, that I was too new to Howard County. Having moved here in early 2011, how could I represent the people when I was not of the community?
It has been attempted before, of course. One example leaps to mind. Back in 1992, a businessman from New York named Sandy Pensler parachuted into Michigan to run for a congressional seat. He was loaded but had little to no connection to the district. So he cuts a TV ad, produced by a well-respected GOP media operative, showing him jogging around Lansing in a Michigan State University sweatshirt. Go Green.
The response ad by his opponent, who won the primary, was simple and devastating. It featured a black and white, slow-motion clip of the original spot, with a voiceover that intoned, “Nice sweatshirt, Sandy. Is it new?” The carpetbagger stigma stuck and Mr. Pensler never recovered. I heard the U-Haul was back at his apartment before the vote was certified.
Which brings me to the candidacy of one Kevin Forrest Schmidt.
Now, as a Democrat and friend of Jon Weinstein, I am not a disinterested party. There are several reasons why I would cast my ballot for Jon, if I resided in the First District. Among them is his long history of community involvement. Compare that with Mr. Schmidt, who apparently moved to Ellicott City in the 2008 – 2009 time-frame and whose record of HoCo civic engagement appears far less extensive.
It is wonderful that most Howard County residents have a welcoming attitude toward newcomers. That said, it is another matter entirely to elect such individuals to public office.
I am not saying that it can’t or shouldn’t be done, but, fair or not, questions are raised. How well does this person really know Howard County? How well do his or her potential constituents know this person? How can this individual effectively serve the district? Do they understand the values and interests of their new neighbors? Are they running because they see an opportunity or because they truly want to serve and accomplish something…and even if the latter is the case, why now? Why not wait until their roots stretch deeper?
Just a few thoughts going into the homestretch.
Stay tuned, as more will follow.