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Letter from the Editor – The voice of reason

Linda Kelley and campaign piggy bank
Hollywood, MD - Some people really don’t need to hold public office to be important and impactful. Linda L. Kelley of Owings, who died Feb. 1, was one of those people. The fact that she did hold office for a long period of time—16 years as a county commissioner—was a stroke of luck for the citizens of Calvert County. To be sure, not everybody is in agreement with that last statement. But as she once told me during a discussion on local politics, “you’ve got to stand for something.” Unlike some politicians—national, state and local—who rely on wind direction to form opinions, Linda was no empty suit.

If local politics is merely entertainment then Linda Kelley was a star performer. If being fiscally prudent with the people’s money means often saying “no,” then there was no part of the word you didn’t understand when she said it. “Where’s the money coming from?” was the jackpot question Commissioner Kelley would ask when anything new was being proposed for county government that would have fiscal impact. If that question could be satisfactorily answered then it was often followed by a Linda Kelley smile and the words, “move to approve.”

While it may have seemed to some folks that Linda was against everything—public sewer in Dunkirk, huge raises for public school teachers, grant money for certain nebulous childcare initiatives, big box stores of gargantuan size—there was plenty she supported. Those issues—including residential growth control, limits on bonded capital projects (“I’m a ‘pay-go’ kind of person,” she once stated), land preservation—were all tied to her fiscal conservatism. Having to facilitate a larger population would mean building more roads, building more schools and seeing the diminishing of Calvert’s rural character. That’s money out of local residents’ pockets and she was determined things were not going to get out of control on her watch.

Linda’s advocacy on behalf of women who had been physically and mentally abused, her support for programs like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the public school system’s Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps programs, Civil Air Patrol Cadet Squadron and her splendid salesmanship in urging people to buy commemorative bricks for the creation of the On Watch statue were tethered to her love for people. There was her work on behalf of animals—it goes without saying, she loved animals—domestic and wild. The county’s revised Animal Control Ordinance was hard labor for the final board of commissioners she served on but it has proven to be a prudent measure for all God’s creatures. Arguably the best thing Calvert’s current board of commissioners has done was appropriately name the soon-to-be-built animal shelter after Linda Kelley.

How can anyone not like someone—even an elected official--who refuses to gamble away your money, supports programs that teach children real values, aids individuals facing great danger and is kind to animals? Linda was a real easy person to like. There was no misunderstanding where she stood on any issue which made it difficult to disagree with her. She always had a good reason.

Today, her loving family, loyal friends and many former constituents lament her loss. The living person who was Linda L. Kelley is irreplaceable. The only solace is that many of the things she accomplished have a pulse and will endure.

The opinions expressed due not necessarily reflect those of the TheBayNet.com management.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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