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As Long as We Remember...

July 6, 2006

Forget Preconceived Notions on Disabilities

Chris Cavey

This past week Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., surprised most Marylanders with his pick of Kristen Cox for lieutenant governor. However, in Baltimore County the rank-n-file Republicans were not surprised. You see, the Baltimore County Republican Party has been on the cutting edge of inclusive and progressive party building for some time. It has created opportunities for all who wish to fit within its big tent.

Baltimore County Republicans are truly open to all. There is a diverse population and diversity in leaders within both traditional and untraditional minorities - female, African-American and the disabled.

Two Baltimore County women who led their party and served their citizens well are Ellen Sauerbrey and Helen Delich Bentley. Both women are leaders in their own right; both making a mark for Maryland with their service to our nation. These two women laid the foundation for how Baltimore County's Republican Party currently today.

For 31 years the states attorney for Baltimore County - Sandra O'Connor - has been a tough enforcer of the law. She was such a success at her job that most of her bids for re-election were unopposed by either Republicans or Democrats. She has been honored and lauded for her job and is now retiring.

Clarence W. Bell, Jr., is the current candidate for Baltimore County Republicans for the top job of county executive. He is the first African-American to run for that position and may be the first African-American to run a countywide race. Able and qualified and very proud to be a lifelong Republican, he wants to give back to his community and his county.

Craig Borne is a candidate in Baltimore County for the Maryland Senate. He is blind and started his campaign months before the governor's selection of Kristen Cox. He waives signs, goes door-to-door and is one of the sharpest candidates the Baltimore County Republicans have fielded in years.

Craig is a former school teacher who went to law school and now works as an attorney. His lack of sight does not affect his work ethic, intelligence or his excellent sense of humor. Everyone who meets him is impressed; there are no thoughts of sympathy or pity, only amazement at his abilities to function in the political world better than most sighted people.

Governor Ehrlich understands his "home county." He knows from many years of representing Baltimore County that its Republican Party is broad and diverse. He knows that there are people who are excellent choices to serve Maryland's citizens and he has never been afraid to break new territory to add new talent to his team.

Lt. Gov. Michael Steele was Ehrlich's choice. The governor recognized Steele's talent and knew the people of Baltimore County would have no problem with an Ehrlich/Steele team. Baltimore County was the difference in the governor's race in 2002, giving Candidate Ehrlich 67 percent of the votes cast.

Only positives and pride in the governor's choice came from Baltimore County Republicans, no indications of prejudice. The prejudice came from the Democrats when racial overtones were indicated with the "Oreo Cookie" incident at Morgan State University during the 2002 campaign. Then later when an African- American senator from Baltimore City stated that it was to be: "Party over race."

Governor Ehrlich once again has made a great selection as his running mate. He, yet again, is breaking new ground and forcing many to change their paradigms. If you think a blind female is weak and can't be a leader.speak with Kristen Cox. You will quickly change your mind.

Mrs. Cox is a leader, a resident of Baltimore County where diversity is understood. She is intelligent and articulate. She is the first secretary of a Department of Disabilities in the nation.

She is an advocate by nature and has worked for the National Federation for the Blind and as an assistant director and assistant commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration to the U.S. Department of Education.

If you don't know what an advocate is or does, the best example are all those PTA moms who worked their issues at the meetings and eventually got their way. Can you imagine what a real professional advocate can do for Maryland as lieutenant governor? I can. we are destined to make new and exciting changes.

Hopefully the Maryland's citizens will look at leadership and abilities - forgetting perceived disabilities.

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