Washington County lawmaker Christopher Shank moved to the Maryland Senate from the House of Delegates, where he had a well-earned reputation as a partisan bomb thrower.
Shank maintained that he was just doing his job in his role with the minority leadership. But whatever the reason, this act didn’t play well among the Annapolis majority leaders who, like them or not, decide who wins and who loses in the state capital.
The results were self-evident. Shank struggled to pass bills and his grandstanding against state budgets — and his loud votes against them — gave the state leadership no reason to grant many Washington County funding requests.
So when Shank defeated longtime Sen. Donald F. Munson, a compromising moderate, there was a deserved cause for concern. Some suggested that, with a firebrand in the Senate, we might as well build a bridge over Washington County, because to the rest of the state it would be as if we didn’t exist.
But to his credit, Shank has taken his new role with an added measure of gravitas. He has measured his tone and recast himself as a reasonable voice for Western Maryland interests.
As a result, this year he passed a dozen bills and was among legislators responsible for winning a $1.5 million disparity grant for Washington County that will take the edge off our challenged economic base, one that is well below the majority of state counties.
At the same time, he has not compromised the values that make him popular in his district. In matters such as gun control, Shank stood with his people. But he did so in a way that did not upstage or embarrass his opponents.
Smart, articulate and savvy, Shank has always had the tools to be a superior public servant. And in the Senate, he has worked with Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, a skilled partisan who, at the same time, never lets party stand in the way of results. Stay on his good side, and Miller will allow and understand opposition.
Shank might say he hasn’t changed a bit — that he is just fulfilling the job he has been elected to do. Maybe. But to us, it appears that he knows the importance of representing all the people of Washington County, not just those on the far right. If the senator we’ve seen lately is the senator that we see for the rest of Shank’s tenure in the Senate, we will be all the more grateful for his service.
In new role, Sen. Shank representing county well
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