Harford County is at a crossroad. As population growth pushes northward, development pressures are inevitably bringing changes to a county that has been predominantly rural. With this election, the county will be choosing new leadership in several important posts.
The county executive candidate who is best qualified to meet those challenges is Del. Eileen Rehrmann. Her tenure as a town commissioner in Bel Air and as an effective two-term delegate in Annapolis has given her a range of experiences unmatched by her Republican opponent, Geoffrey Close. Close has lifelong ties to the area and 15 years on the Bel Air town board, seven of them as mayor. Rehrmann's experience in municipal, county and state positions gives her a better grasp of the possibilities and limits of effective government. Even when state coffers are hard-pressed to meet current budget needs, state government will continue to be an indispensable partner to local jurisdictions. Rehrmann offers the talent, experience and commitment that is necessary to lead Harford County into a prosperous future, making use of new opportunities while retaining the best of the county's traditions and heritage.
The race for County Council president offers voters two good candidates. Our choice is Republican Jeffrey Wilson over Democrat Frederick Hatem. Wilson, who was appointed to the post earlier this year, has brought fresh energy and vision to the job and deserves the chance to serve a full term.
In other council races: For District A, our choice is Charles Anderson, a former county executive whose government experience will be useful on the council. In District B, we endorse the incumbent, Republican Joanne Parrott, who has been an effective and energetic representative. In District D, we support the incumbent, Robert Hooper, whose conservative, business-oriented views deserve representation. In District E, we favor Republican Robert Wagner over incumbent Edward Fielder, who has not been a strong presence on the council. Democratic candidates in districts C and F are unopposed.
The contest to fill the seat being vacated by state Sen. Cathy Riley was settled in the primary, but House races feature some lively contests. In District 34, Democrat Mary Louise Preis is an excellent candidate who could help fill the gap in the county's delegation that is left by the departure from the legislature of Cathy Riley, Eileen Rehrmann and Barbara Kreamer. Two Republican candidates -- David R. Craig and David M. Meadows -- would both be better choices than incumbent William Cox.
For the two Harford County seats in District 35, we favor Democrat Donald Fry and Republican James Harkins, both of whom would be better choices than incumbent Joseph Lutz.
Harford voters face two ballot questions. Question A, a charter amendment relating to the county's contingency reserves, is a relatively minor housekeeping matter that deserves passage. Question B is a legacy of the contentious fight over Windsor Mill mall. The question, as written, relates to the county's comprehensive rezoning plan, but subsequent actions by the county council mean that, in essence, a vote against the measure would allow the land where the mall was to have been built to revert back to its previous zoning. That seems to be what the majority of Harford Countians want.