Viewing Problems From A Larger Lens


By Amanda Fiedler
Councilwoman, District 5

Shortly after my January column in the Severna Park Voice, I received an email from a constituent. It was a kind suggestion to avoid saying “what a typical politician says.” The letter tasked me with “ruffling feathers” and to identify those I feel are the sources of problems (traffic-related in this circumstance) when I have an opportunity. I appreciated the input but respectfully disagree.

Over the course of the past nine weeks, my office has managed a variety of constituent and community concerns. Traffic has been a prominent challenge, specifically in Severna Park. If you live in Severna Park and read this publication, you are already aware of the locations in question. The efforts to find a solution to this problem continue through regular communication between residents and myself, multiple site visits, and conversations with our police department regarding enforcement. Children have a right to walk to their school and parents have a right to drive them if they determine walking conditions aren’t safe. Residents of communities should be able to use their sidewalks and crosswalks without fears of being struck by a passing vehicle. Drivers have a personal responsibility to follow the law.

Traffic isn’t the only matter facing our district. The eastern seaboard has received record amounts of rain and continues to accumulate precipitation into the winter months. Homeowners, including myself, are walking into muddy, saturated yards or small lakes that once were covered with green grass. Is this record amount of rain the new “normal?” Do we have puddling due to failing drainage systems or because the ground can no longer absorb additional water? Perhaps it is a combination of both. I don’t know the answer to that question, but these are questions we need to ask ourselves if we are to find a solution. With every passing month, we near the General Development Plan, and I have challenged myself with not pointing my finger (or ruffling feathers) in any one direction to place blame. Instead, I believe the wiser, more responsible approach is to take a step back and view from a larger lens. Water is a tricky force of nature. If we don’t carefully identify the source, or combination of sources, and develop a wholistic approach to righting the issue, our community will continue with this problem.

The last month has been a continuation of facing the two dominant concerns crossing my desk, but it was also one of unexpected and unfortunate events at two of our local schools. In mid-January, I was notified that two separate incidents of anti-Semitic drawings and other offensive or threatening language were found while students were in classes. Both cases are still under investigation. Letters were sent home to parents in each incident. I applaud the administrations for taking immediate action. These incidents are not new to our county, and hate can exist anywhere. It is upsetting and concerning to hear about these events, but they force and encourage serious conversations in our homes. I do not condone intimidating or threatening language directed toward any person or any group based on race, religion or any other differences, and I take full responsibility to teach this to my children. Personal responsibility is a large piece to the solution puzzle.

As I reflect on the constituent letter I received, I appreciate the perspective of “ruffling feathers” to get the job done. I do my job differently. I review issues from all sides, have thoughtful discussions, look for reasonable solutions, and acknowledge where personal responsibility over government is necessary. I believe that cooler heads prevail over ruffled feathers.