Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself: Miller Profiles Whisler

From our good friend, Ann Millier at the Examiner.com:

Steve Whisler makes his much anticipated announcement of his run for County Council in District 1 on Monday, October 19. Steve presents a pragmatic, objective, no-nonsense approach to problem solving. And, in a district that has seen some who are more problem creators than solvers, he is just the candidate needed.

Steve grew up in Southern Florida in a working class family and attended public schools. He began sowing the seeds for a lifetime of public service at age 16, when he was elected to the local Little League board as the Umpire Chief, coordinating all the umpires in the league.

Because he didn’t have the money for college, he joined the Navy right out of high school, serving in the Persian Gulf War. He was an enlisted naval linguist for ten years, then was selected for the Limited Duty Officer Program, of which only about 1% of active duty personnel are selected. He served for another ten years as a naval officer, receiving an impressive list of military awards. In 2006, after 20 years of service, he was selected for Lieutenant Commander, but retired instead to pursue a career in the civilian sector as a federal defense contractor.

Steve reached the level of Divisional Vice President for a defense technology firm. He also currently serves on the board of Maryland’s largest credit union in a volunteer role.

During his time in the military, he was able to earn Associates, Bachelors, and Masters degrees, and is now working to finish his dissertation towards his doctorate.

He married his wife Amanda, a Woodlawn native, in 1992, and they have two sons, age ten and eight, both at Woodbridge Elementary School. Steve and Amanda have been very active in the public schools, volunteering their time and backing it up with monetary donations. Their donations have enabled the school to buy new computer systems and computer tables. In addition, Amanda currently works in the public school system as a substitute and special needs teacher.

Steve’s community service experience in the southwest corner of the county lends itself to the office he is seeking. He has served three terms as president of the Coalition for the Preservation of Southwest Baltimore County, engaging politicians and civic groups on land use, education, and public policy issues. He was president of the Westview Park Improvement & Civic Association for eight years, and Historian at the American Legion Post 109 in Arbutus. In 2005, Governor Ehrlich recognized his contributions to the community and appointed him to serve on a state commission to assess the region’s mass transportation issues and develop meaningful solutions for state lawmakers and the Maryland Department of Transportation. Finally, he is currently the treasurer of a swim club, handling the $150,000 budget for the non-profit.

Steve registered as a Republican at age 18, but does not vote party line. “I’ve been called a Libertarian and a liberal, especially as it comes to my environmental policies. Really, I’m a fiscal conservative.

There were several county issues that prompted Steve to run for office. The issues highlighted the corruption, waste of taxpayer money, and lack of accountability prevalent in the county council and executive’s administration.

And then there’s the county debt – all $942 million of it. Steve has done a comprehensive analysis of the county budget that will leave your head spinning. He says we are on a trajectory for a $1.4 billion debt by 2014. “The county executive and council play a huge role in determining what ballot initiatives get on the ballot. They have spent our tax dollars on things that benefit special interest and influencial property development. They create these bond initiatives on the ballot that are worded in such a way to guarantee they will be approved by voters.”

He continued, “Irresponsible priorities are setting the stage for tax increases after the 2010 elections. Like business, the council should focus on the core functions of government – providing for our schools, infrastructure, roads, fire and police. The council has their priorities so out of whack that they are not addressing these, but instead doing outlandish, irresponsible things that waste our tax dollars. That really prompted me to think, ‘Wow, something needs to change.’”

Steve spoke more on the direction the county is heading. “We will enjoy over the next two years a heyday of money coming our way. We are going to purchase all kinds of things. But when that stimulus money runs out, what are we going to do? Fire police officers, implement wage freezes, furloughs? We are on the path of financial hurt in the county because our politicians are living large and spending money on the credit card instead of implementing smart, prudent strategies to make sure we have the money to fund what we need five and ten years down the road.”

On education, Steve said, “We neglect our teachers and don’t send money into the classroom. Teachers have to buy their own classroom supplies out of pocket. 66 cents on every dollar in the county is spent on education, so why are teachers buying their own supplies? Why are they doing a couple hours of prep work at home off the clock? Why are they begging for cost of living increases every year? The only time they get them is before an election.”

“Certain schools are getting attention and not others in order to court votes instead of spreading the distribution of funds where they are needed most. Poorer schools are not receiving the dollars.” Steve supports voucher and charter school programs.

Steve places a strong importance on environmental protection and air quality issues. He seeks a balance between development and growth.

On term limits, Steve said, “After being in Maryland, it is obvious to me that we should have term limits on the county council and state legislature. With career politicians, everything they do is aimed at getting re-elected.”

The issues that Steve named as the most important in the county were fiscal responsibility, accountability in government, and illegal immigration reform.

Baltimore County’s general fund sits at $1.6 billion currently. Steve blames irresponsible spending and accumulation of debt for the nation’s financial debacle. “We are on the same path in Baltimore County that prompted the financial crisis a year ago in the nation. I’ve seen first-hand how Maryland tax policies effect big business, small business, and non-profits alike.”

On accountability, Steve said, “The council is supposed to be that check and balance. We’ve had a council over the past two decades that has been a rubber stamp, go along get along council. Not a council that has implemented checks and balances on the county executive and accountability on the county government.”

“We need reforms in the county contracting process. We don’t have a process to help small and new businesses get their foot in the door in Baltimore County. We need to do a zero based review of what goes on in Administrative Officer Fred Hohman’s office. We need to encourage competition, facilitate innovation, and look at private solutions.”

On illegal immigration, Steve said, “We are attracting illegals to Maryland in record numbers because of irresponsible state policies. We need to implement measures such as in Frederick County to make illegal immigrants not feel welcome here. Our law enforcement should be equipped to carry out federal immigration statutes. We need to put more people on the law enforcement roles to detect and destroy gangs associated solely with illegal immigrants.”

“Preschools in the county give priority to kids whose second language is English. We can’t get our kids into preschools due to the illegal immigration problems.”

On Republican chances for 2010, Steve said, “People are waking up and concerned about spending on the federal level. I ask them why they are shocked, given that we’ve been doing huge deficit spending in the county for years.”

“We need people in leadership that can make the tough choices and share our values. Republicans need to stick to our fiscally conservative values. Independents and conservative Democrats are ready to give Republicans a shot. It’s going to be an anti-incumbent election.”

This evening, from 6 to 9 p.m., Steve is making his campaign candidacy announcement at the Candlelight Inn in Catonsville. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit Steve’s website at www.friendsofstevewhisler.com.

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