Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tom Coale and Ellicott City

Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote that a “state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory, and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”  This outlook is based, among other factors, upon the supposition that state legislators represent a population that is more likely to share common interests related to geographic proximity and other provincial characteristics.   They are intended to be closer to “the people” of the regions and municipalities of a particular state as compared to those representatives elected to serve as a member of the general, or federal, government.

With that in mind, I can’t think of anyone who cares more about, understands better, or will work harder for, the citizenry of Maryland’s House of Delegates District 9B than Tom Coale.

His extensive record of public service is truly impressive.  Beyond that, Coale has a deep, sincere and abiding commitment to Ellicott City.  Having kicked around the political arena for a while, I have been unfortunate enough to meet some office-holders and seekers who were, shall we say, primarily driven by self-interest.  Coale, thankfully, cannot be counted among that number. 

When I first moved here, Tom’s blog ( helped acquaint me with Howard County’s characters and challenges.  It was, and remains, an invaluable resource for someone who wants to understand the who, what, when, where, why and how of our corner of Maryland.  The more I write, the more I appreciate Tom’s erudition and dedication to educating his readership about the goings-on in our community.  It takes time to craft smart, focused posts…and to make them interesting.  The fact that he accomplishes this, consistently, is remarkable.

Having served a stint on Wilde Lake’s Village Board, I gained yet another perspective on the challenges facing those who serve on the Columbia Association Board of Directors.  It is a volunteer position yet it is really, at the very least, a part-time job.  And it is not a sinecure.  Tom dove into it, did the hard work, took some principled stands, and left his mark.  That, my dear readers, is the textbook example of leadership.

So now District 9B, as a single-member district in the House of Delegates, has the opportunity to send one Delegate to Annapolis to work on their behalf.  This person should be someone who is effective, knowledgeable, can get things accomplished and who is not an ideologue.  From my perspective, of the two candidates seeking the office, Tom Coale, with his pragmatic focus on addressing concrete problems (such as combating flooding in Ellicott City) seems to be the better positioned to deliver for the District.

Granted, I am a District 12 resident.  I already have great choices on Election Day.  That said, if you believe, as I do, that our General Assembly needs more smart and serious legislators…and if you are a 9B resident, I hope you cast your ballot for Tom Coale.  He would be good for Howard County and for our great laboratory, the State of Maryland.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

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