Local Politics

I live in Maryland, where the State legislature formed in 1632 – yes, before the United States became a country.  In the early days, many of the statesmen were farmers, and thus it made sense for the legislature to meet during the months least hospitable to working the land, January through early April.  This same schedule exists today, and many Marylanders are not aware that their elected State representatives conduct all their legislative business in a 90-day session, the vast majority of them holding other full-time jobs during the entire year.

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010, members of The Maryland Horse Council received a legislative tour of the State Capitol in Annapolis.   State Senator Edward R. Reilly, (R), District 33, Anne Arundel County, introduced himself as “Big Ed,” while shaking each of our hands and asking a little about us.  He brought us into his office, and spent over an hour explaining how a bill becomes a law in “The Free State.”  Using a horse bill passed this year, he stepped us through the process, injecting humor where appropriate, and allowed our youngest visitor, Grace (11), to sit in the Senator’s seat and act as Senator for the exercise.   Senator Reilly spoke about the power of each person’s voice, encouraged all to get to know their elected representatives and communicate with them, and then took us on a one-hour tour of the Capital. 

When I wrote Believing In Horses, I included a section on local politics, and the power of the people’s voice.  I grew up folding flyers and passing them out door to door supporting my parents’ local candidates.  I knew I had a voice in third grade when I thought the slaughter of the wild horses out West was horrible, and my mom helped me write letters to Congress to ask them to stop.  Both my parents served as Election Judges, and my dad spent many holidays driving politicians in parades in his flashy Corvette.  When I was offered a position in the Navy’s Office of Legislative Affairs, my mom advised:  “Take it; you’ll receive the education of a lifetime.”  I was fortunate to have learned so many lessons about politics over the years, and wanted to share some of those lessons when I wrote the book.

I walked away from the latest political encounter energized by the State Senator, and even happier that the political section of my book had survived the editing process.  Most in our horse group on Tuesday were not his direct constituents; he knew it; and that didn’t seem to matter.  His sincere message:  we are here for the people, and the rest is up to you.   With current local media coverage focused on a county executive under arrest, and a U.S. Congressman indicted on fraud charges, it was nice to see what I would like to believe is bit more of reality – well meaning folks trying to do the right thing.  When Senator Reilly finished with our tour at 6:00 p.m., he departed for a speech to 8-year-old cub scouts on “Citizenship.”  But that didn’t make the news.  Hopefully his young audience listened, and shares the message with others.


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