UNIVERSITY PARK – Parris N. Glendening may be the governor of Maryland, but to residents of sleepy Pine Way, he’s still just the guy next door.
While having the state’s highest elected official as their neighbor may threaten the privacy and quiet that lured them here, many of University Park’s 2,000 citizens are both supportive and protective of Glendending.
Glendening can’t always leave his work at the office. But what the governor brings home won’t fit in a briefcase.
Activists have solicited neighbors’ help in applying political pressure for a cause. Protesters have held candlelight vigils beneath the broad shade trees. On Halloween, for instance, a group came to Pine Way for the third time to call for reinstatement of a state welfare program cut early this year.
Glendening spokeswoman Marilyn Corbett said the governor regards the disturbances as inappropriate. But neighbors seem to take it in stride.
“We just think as long as they are peaceful about it then that’s fine,” said Julie Daberkow, who lives two doors from the Glendenings. “So far there has never been a problem living this close to the governor.”
Lynne Hammette, who lives across the street, said she doesn’t mind the protesters as much as the protocol and security.
After Glendening’s election, a state trooper took up residence inside a converted garage beside the governor’s house, watching the manicured grounds for intruders.
“It’s a little unnerving when we see the door open and all of the cameras and stuff inside where the guard is,” Hammette said. “By now we are all used to it as every day occurrences, along with the appointed drivers that pull up in limousines to pick him up.”
University Park has no business district in its 313 acres, by order of the town charter. Its two churches and one elementary school provide the center for its 915 homes, many built in the 1920s and 1930s.
Police Chief Richard Ashton said the community is regarded as “an oasis in a sea of crime.” Those who move here wind up staying, he said — and the governor is no exception. Glendening and his wife, Frances Anne, have lived on Pine Way since 1976, shortly after their marriage.
Neighbors see the governor when he goes to the bank, when he takes out his trash and recyclables, when he works on his yard on weekends, and when he volunteers once a week in the elementary school library. But they complain that they see too little of him, especially when the Legislature is in session.
“When I saw him at the bank recently, I didn’t know whether to say, `hello governor’ or `hello neighbor’,” said Mayor Margaret Mallino.
Mallino said her husband David, a labor union lobbyist, doesn’t shy from bringing up business with his prominent neighbor. “David uses it as a chance to tell the governor what he thinks on certain issues,” she said.
Others said they like to leave him alone. Florence Vold, who lives next door, wrote in response to a reporter’s inquiry, “We respect each other as neighbors. I respect his privacy and he respects mine.”
Another neighbor agreed. “I respect him very much for not leaving his home and trying to live a normal life for his son and wife. I don’t want him to regret the decision,” said Diane Breier, town council member, referring to the fact that Glendening did not move to Annapolis.
John Brunner, another council member, made the same point: “People who don’t live here are surprised to hear that it’s true that he lives in his home. They see it as a strange decision. I think it is a distinction that says he cares about his community and doesn’t want to lose touch by living in the governor’s mansion.”
To Mallino, the governor is able to live at his home without causing a commotion because of the people who live in University Park.
“We are all pretty politically savvy in this area. We know that protests and things are all just part of the political process. “Actually,” she concluded with a smile, “it reminds us that our boy made it.” -30-