Dear Friends of Baltimore County,
Nine years ago, when I was planning to run for Baltimore County Executive, I met with my political consultant to discuss the theme that would define my campaign. When I told her that I wanted to build my campaign around leading a renaissance for Baltimore County, I was met with the response-- “Oh no, we can’t do that. People don’t even know how to spell it,” As I told my consultant, “I don’t care whether they know how to spell it. They know how to say it and we are going to tell them what it means. It is not just about revitalization, bricks and mortar. It is about the spirit of a community. It is providing people in our County the opportunity to be the best they can be.”
I am proud to say that the people of Baltimore County had no trouble understanding “renaissance.” They embraced the renaissance mission and became a critical part of it. The results of their participation and our renaissance can be seen throughout Baltimore County. Working together, County employees and the people and businesses of our communities made renaissance happen and helped prepare us to prosper in the 21st century. And we accomplished this without sacrificing the values and traditions that have made Baltimore County such a special place in which to live.
In Essex/Middle River and Dundalk, we tore down crime infested neighborhoods and replaced them with single family homes and affordable senior housing, redevelopments that reflect the true character of these historic communities. We worked together with GM to bring the jobs of the 21st century to White Marsh, and in doing so, created a model for management/union relations that serves as a model for the nation. In Randallstown, we built a community center that brings people of all ages and interests together, and fosters a belief in and commitment to a wonderful part of Baltimore County. In the northern County, we worked with local farmers and landowners to protect more than 15,000 acres of open space, preserving our County’s rural heritage and bringing Baltimore County’s total to 57,000 acres permanently preserved since 1974. And don’t forget, we survived Isabel’s attack in eastern Baltimore County and came back stronger than ever. We also smartly handled three blizzards in a single winter.
From one end of the County to the other, our renaissance improved the quality of life and opportunity for success in Baltimore County, both of which will have lasting impact. While I am enormously proud of the schools, libraries, community and senior centers, parks and playgrounds that we have built, and the improvements in public safety, education, environmental stewardship and economic vitality, what has been most meaningful to me as County Executive, has been the enthusiasm and buy in of the people of Baltimore County. That community participation has made the last eight years so personally fulfilling. Other elected officials, County Department heads and employees, non profits, community organizations, chambers and churches, businesses and people from every walk of life, have all played a major role. There were different priorities and different ideas about how to get things done, but in the end we came together to improve and enhance our County’s quality of life.
On December 6th, I will no longer serve as County Executive, but I am still looking forward to everyone working together to make Baltimore County an even better place. The last eight years have been wonderful years for me. I am so very grateful to the people of Baltimore County for allowing me the opportunity to serve and for supporting my administration after my election.
I wish you and your families the best for the upcoming holiday seasons. Thanks again, for a great eight years.
Jim Smith, Baltimore County Executive
Countywide RenaissanceSince his election in 2002, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith has led an ambitious countywide renaissance. The wave of reinvestment throughout Baltimore County has inspired confidence among business leaders, community activists, senior citizens, and first-time home buyers from Woodlawn to Essex. Building on the strategies of Urban Design Assistance Teams, renaissance redevelopment projects like Renaissance Square and Yorkway have received acclaim at both the State and national levels. This revolutionary concept in community redevelopment brings citizens, government, and developers together from the earliest stages of planning with the shared goal of creating the kind of community-friendly construction that will support the growth of stronger neighborhoods.
Effective Budget ManagementJim Smith understands that good government requires fiscal responsibility. Under his leadership, Baltimore County adhered to a fiscal policy that is grounded in fundamental precepts of effective budget management. Smith ensured that County programs and services are predicted on realistic revenue projections. Thanks to his commitment to strong financial management, Baltimore County has avoided the layoffs, furloughs, hiring freezes, and budget deficits that currently plague many governments across the country. In addition, responsible budget management made it possible for Baltimore County to avoid increases on property and income tax rates.
Wide Range of IssuesJim Smith knows that teamwork is essential to effective government. Working with the County Council, he helped to enact important legislation covering a wide range of issues. He revised Baltimore County’s pension and health care plans, protecting both the well being of County employees and the County’s Triple/Triple A bond rating. He also collaborated with the Council to pass legislation designed to improve the quality of life in Baltimore County by creating one of the strongest historic preservation tax credit programs in the State; by granting tax credits for energy-efficient buildings; by protecting consumers in reforming the management of the County’s towing industry; and by establishing one of the most successful rental registration programs in the State. Recognizing the need to protect Baltimore County’s agricultural heritage, he signed legislation allowing farmers to market the products they grow on their land, and he helped to secure a major victory for public safety by championing a law that requires scrap metal processors to record their daily sales thus giving the police another key tool to fight crime in Baltimore County.
Public Education, A CommitmentJim Smith has always believed that the foundation of any community is its public education system. Over the past six years, he worked with Baltimore County’s State Delegation and the Governor’s office to secure more than $178 million in State funding for school renovation and construction. Combining these State funds with Baltimore County’s commitment, Smith has spent more than $1 billion on school renovation and construction projects. During his tenure in office, Baltimore County opened Woodholme Elementary School, Windsor Mill Middle School, Vincent Farm Elementary School, the Crossroads Center for alternative education students, and the Bridge Center to help students from group homes transition into Baltimore County public schools. Currently, a new George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology High School and a West Towson Elementary School are under construction, while a new Dundalk High School and Sollers Point Technical High Schools are under design.
Public ServiceJim Smith began his career in public service as a member of the Baltimore County Council from 1978 to 1985, when he was appointed Associate Judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. He stepped down from the bench in 2001 to run for County Executive, where he continues to lead Baltimore County into the 21st century through creative approaches to government that meet the needs of its citizens. In 2006, the National Association of Counties recognized him as one of the outstanding County Executives in the nation. In January 2008, he was elected as the President of the Maryland Association of Counties. A lifelong resident of Baltimore County, Jim Smith is dedicated to ensuring that our County’s government puts families first, safeguards communities, and operates as effectively and efficiently as possible. Smith plans to remain in public service when his term concludes in December 2010.