Only about 50 people turned out to hear the candidates for county council debate the county's top issues Thursday.
The debates centered on issues of environment, education, growth and economic development.
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Harford County, the debate offered candidates for the county council and council president a chance to outline their plans for the county if elected Nov. 6.
A sampling of some of the issues and where the candidates said they stood:
"Certainly, growth has been the number one issue," said Barry Glassman, a Level resident and the Republican challenger seeking the District D council seat.
Glassman said the county needs to develop a strong adequate public facilities program to control development. Such a program is already under consideration. Glassman added that the county must contain growth in the so-called "development envelope" along Route 24 and Interstate 95.
J. Robert Hooper, the Democrat who has held the District D seat for eight years, said he also supports the concept of an adequate public facilities program.
Meanwhile the candidates in the District E race clashed on the growth issue.
To deal with the pressures of growth, Harford County will have to go to the bond market to fund school construction, improve roads and upgrade the water and sewer system, said Democrat G. Edward Fielder, the District E incumbent.
But Robert S. Wagner, Fielder's GOP challenger, said the county should have been finding growth-control measures and new funding sources to address development problems years ago.
Jeffries Webster, a Democrat running for the District B seat, said that while Harford has a good education system, he would like to see more computer and language classes introduced in earlier grades. Webster is challenging incumbent Republican, Joanne S. Parrott.
She said the Board of Education needs to redefine its budget priorities.
Incumbent Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, a Republican, said he will continue looking for the middle ground to improve relations between school and county officials.
But Wilson's challenger, Democrat Frederick J. Hatem, who now holds the District F council seat, said the county still faces "deep problems" with the Board of Education that must be resolved.
To illustrate the differences, Hatem pointed to this past year's school budget battle -- the Board of Education requested a 25 percent funding increase while the county was planning on a 7 percent increase.
Charles B. Anderson, a Democrat seeking the council seat for District A, said he believes the county will have to start a mandatory recycling program in a few years.
Anderson's GOP opponent, Republican Susan B. Heselton, agreed that mandatory recycling will become a reality for Harford County. To make recycling work, she said, the county needs to find new markets for the materials.
Glassman said the county should create buffer zones between developments and have stronger enforcement of sediment control laws. Hooper said county officials must provide for some growth to ensure the county can attract new industry.
The debate will air on cable Channel 15 on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Nov. 1, at 8 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m.