| At thirty-five miles, the distance from Burtonsville to Annapolis may simply be a morning commute for some - but for State Senator Rona Kramer (D), it feels much longer. "It's so nice to see friends from home," Kramer said at a buffet Monday night hosted by the District 14 delegation. "You come out here for the session and it feels like another world."
With just two hours until they were set to begin the 2008 legislative session, Senator Kramer and the three District 14 delegates - Anne Kaiser, Herman Taylor and Karen Montgomery, all Democrats - started the year with a buffet at the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis for their constituents. They were joined by a raft of State and local officials, including Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and County Executive Ike Leggett. While District 14 covers a third of Montgomery County, stretching from Damascus to Burtonsville, it was East County that was best represented among the eighty residents in attendance.
Noting her achievements in politics and civil rights over the past thirty years, Del. Taylor awarded an official citation to Odessa Shannon, director of the county's Office of Human Rights. Shannon, a Tamarack resident, was the first Black member of the School Board when elected in 1982; two weeks ago, she retired. While attending Springbrook High School, Taylor's brother dated Shannon's daughter, the delegate explained. "She showed her commitment to Human Rights," Del. Taylor joked, "because she could put up with my brother."
Over two dozen representatives from the newly-formed Burtonsville Business Association and Citizens Involved, an East County civic group, carpooled down for the evening. Citizens Involved president Eileen York had a chance to speak with the entire District 14 delegation, but "didn't really get any substance" from them, she said. "I just said to [Sen. Kramer] we need to get support for Burtonsville, we need to improve our community."
York, whose group was started last summer as a way of bringing Burtonsville and surrounding communities together, claimed responsibility for the newly-installed "Burtonsville Village Center" signs on Route 29 approaching Route 198 in either direction. Until recently, the signs read "Burtonsville Town Center."
"I complained to the State 'you'd call us a town center? We don't even have a discernible center!'" York said. "When you think 'village,' you think smaller. Town center? You think of a huge mall. Something like Reston, or Columbia . . . and we don't have the space for it here."
Delegate Anne Kaiser, a Burtonsville resident, eagerly awaits to hear suggestions from her constituents and neighbors alike, she explained in a brief speech before the crowd. "If you're driving down the street and say 'there oughta be a law,' why don't you call us up?" Kaiser said.