Thursday, November 17, 2011

Message From Joanna Conti

The following is a message from Joanna Conti who narrowly lost to John Leopold last election. She will likely run for County Executive again in 2014.

I became involved in politics in order to use my problem-solving skills to make a difference in people’s lives. When I was not elected County Executive last year, I realized I could still fulfill this passion by working with small groups of other committed individuals on some of the serious issues facing the county. I thought you might be interested in learning about some of the work we’ve been doing this year:

Improving Our Schools: Within three weeks of my being elected Chair of the school system’s Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC), we fielded a survey through which over 4,000 parents told us the improvements they most want to see in our schools. Using these results, the CAC started to tackle parent’s top concerns about large class sizes, bullying, the need for better science education, the emphasis on test-taking, and the achievement gap. Unfortunately, before we could make a lot of progress finding solutions to these problems, the Board of Education disbanded our grass-roots CAC and created a new CAC with 29 hand-selected members. Learn more here.

Ambulance Response: During the campaign, a number of firefighters expressed their concerns to me about how long it sometimes takes for ambulances to arrive. Using data collected under a Public Information Act request, we analyzed the 14,439 ambulance calls during the 4th quarter of 2010 and discovered that Anne Arundel County is far from meeting national standards. While there are several areas needing improvement, one simple way to speed up our ambulance response times is to order the ambulance to the scene as soon as the type of incident and location is known by the 911 call-taker, i of waiting until the end of the 911 call. It appears that this simple change could shave one to two minutes off our ambulance response times at no cost. Find out more.

Keeping South County Rural: It has become apparent that the county’s comprehensive zoning process allows the whims of individual Council members to overturn years of planning. Unless the courts uphold the sanctity of the Small Area Plans built into the 2009 General Development Plan, we need to look for stronger methods of protecting South County's rural nature, including studying policies that have protected rural areas in neighboring counties. Find out more.

As some of these projects wind down, I have been turning my attention to other challenges facing Anne Arundel County, including what we need to be doing to bring more jobs to the area. If you are interested in working with a small team of folks on these or any other problems, please let me know. We'd love to have your help!

Finally, please join me for an Evening of Music & Comedy this Saturday from 7:00 – 10:00 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 2590 Solomon Island Road, Edgewater. I can guarantee you will have a great time listening to the singing of 2011 Annapolis Idol winner Suzy Estrada and laughing along with our comedian David DiLorenzo. Tickets are $50 in advance and $55 at the door. I look forward to seeing you on Saturday night!

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