Harford County Executive David Craig was installed as the new MACo President last night during a ceremony at the MACo Winter Conference. Governor Martin O’Malley led the installation which also included new board member and MACO Treasurer Ken Ulman, Howard County Executive. MACo’s Past Presidents were honored for their service to MACo and county government.
The Aegis Editorial Board published this editorial regarding the new MACo President:
A fine advocate
Few, if any, elected officials in Maryland can claim the government experience of Harford County Executive David Craig, who this week became president of the Maryland Association of Counties, the lobbying arm of the state’s 23 counties and Baltimore City. Though being president of MACo has some largely ceremonial aspects, Craig is still in effect the face of county government in Maryland for the next 12 months and, frankly, we can’t think of anyone more suited to represent the interests of the state’s primary local governments. Seeing that counties are often caught between needs of municipal governments inside their borders and mandates imposed from above by the state, Craig is uniquely qualified to step into this morass having been a municipal mayor and city councilman and both a state delegate and state senator before becoming a county executive. He was also a career educator, which also gives him perspectives on the single largest expenditure any county government must face — its school system.
Craig takes over MACo’s leadership at a particularly critical time. Local government revenues are shrinking across the state, a consequence of the recession which is cutting into local income tax payments and stagnating property tax growth. At the same time, the state has been shifting more and more of its own budget crisis to the counties by reducing its financial aid to them and shifting responsibilities for some programs. Many people believe the next financial battle to be fought by the state and its local governments will be over the responsibility for funding teacher pensions, which currently falls to the state but which some legislators want to shift atleast partially to the counties. If that happens, most county officials agree, more service cuts or higher local taxes will result, without corresponding decreases in state taxes or spending.
In Annapolis and around the state, it’s an election year, a time when state and county officials will be ducking for cover while trying to out-posture each other. Amid such stronger-than-usual politicking, local governments need an effective, forceful and knowledgeable spokesman, and in Craig they have someone with all three attributes. His rise to MACo’s leadership couldn’t be more propitious.