Political Capital- Severna Park, MD

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http://www.aacounty.org/departments/county-executive/

Political Capital of a community refers to the different powerholders in a community and the structure in which members of the community can participate and have a say in the processes that determine the legal realm in which they will reside. An important factor to understanding political capital is identifying key powerholders within the community. Severna Park residents make up 38,177 of the 550,269 residents of Anne Arundel County. Anne Arundel County has a county executive for the county that has been Steve Schuh for seven years (“Total Population”, 2014). He is an obvious powerholder for political processes in Anne Arundel County which encompasses Severna Park. He represents the 550,269 residents including Severna Park’s population in the Maryland House of Delegates. He is a strong republican figure in local politics that focuses on building the local economy and local businesses as well as also having an interest in conserving the 500 miles of shoreline within the county (Steve Schuh, n.d.).

The Severna Park Voice is a local newspaper that has an opinion politics page/blog that any one of the community members of Severna Park can write to and have published through approval of the editor. This allows individuals to mobilize and voice their opinion and is an important tool for local politics. In one particular opinion publication the Board Members of the Magothy River Association worked with Steve Schuh to create the Watershed Protection Workgroup and have different organizations join that work on conserving the water and shorelines of Anne Arundel County (Germain, 2016). They voiced their anger that they had been told to take a “leave of absence” from the workgroup when they had become involved in a litigation effort against a new housing development on the Magothy River (Germain, 2016). This is evidence of a participatory sham. It becomes apparent that the other power holders of the community might be big businesses and especially real estate and that their money has more pull in the local government that the voice of the general population. In Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation this is representative of the Therapy non-participation wrung of the ladder because it the power holders (Steve Schuh and the local government) made it seem like groups like the Magothy River Association particpated and had a voice in the workgroup and it comes across as genuine participation. But, in the end it is apparent their voice only matters when it suits the power holders agenda and this is a lack of positive political capital as demonstrates by a positive political blog for voicing opinions within Severna Park.

References

American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. (2014). Total Population. [Data File]. Retrieved from https://www.factfinder.census.gov

Germain, A. (2016, 7 September). Letter to the Editor: MRA and the Watershed Protection Work Group.  The Severna Park Voice. Retrieved from http://www.severnaparkvoice.com/politics-opinion/letter-editor-mra-and-watershed-protection-work-group

Steve Schuh. (n.d.). About Steve Schuh. Retrieved from http://www.steveschuh.com/about