For the past eight weeks, debate among the 10 County Council candidates has focused primarily on growth control, economic development and the environment.
But voters Tuesday may have a hard time choosing council representatives for districts A, B, D, and E, and council president. Many of the candidates hold similar views on the issues.
The 10 candidates advocate going to the bond market to pay for schools, sewers or other major capital investments. All agree the county must broaden its property tax base by attracting more industry, but few have specific proposals on how to accomplish that goal. The candidates also support county-wide recycling programs.
Following are short profiles of the candidates and races.
In the District A race, Democratic candidate Charles B. Anderson faces Republican Susan B. Heselton.
Anderson, 59, a Joppa resident, was Harford's first county executive, from 1972 to 1978. He was a county commissioner from 1970 to 1972.
Anderson has been campaigning on control of growth. He opposes impact fees, saying the county could not make them high enough to pay for the cost of government services. Anderson favors opening more centers like the Susquehannock Environmental Center, a non-profit recycling center in Bel Air.
Heselton, 48, a Joppatowne resident, is a retired registered nurse who operates a sewing business. She also volunteers at Harford Glen, the county's outdoor education camp, teaching bird banding.
She believes there is a lack of communication between the council and the public. To improve communication she would locate computers in county libraries so citizens could obtain government meeting agendas. Heselton also would push for strengthening recycling in the county. "The county must look at helping to create markets for the materials," she said. Heselton favors adequate public facilities legislation, designed to prevent development unless roads, sewers and schools can handle additional demands.
In the District B council race, one-term incumbent Joanne S. Parrott, a Republican, faces Democratic opponent Jeffries Webster.
Parrott, 50, says the county's environmental affairs office should be divided into two subdivisions: storm water management and sediment control, and recycling and landfill use.
Parrott also said she would like to the county and the owners of the 13 industrial parks in Harford work together to attract businesses to the area.
Her opponent, Webster, 60, a retired IBM executive, advocates voluntary curbside collection and front-end processing, in which materials are sorted on-site before being used in a waste-to-energy plant.
Webster also said he would push for strict enforcement of sediment control laws. On the issue of impact fees, Webster said he is concerned that such fees have not been successful in other areas.
In the District D race, two-term incumbent Democrat J. Robert Hooper, 54, of Street, faces Republican challenger Barry Glassman, 28, of Level.
Hooper has campaigned on the issue of fiscal responsibility, saying that is one way the county can attract more business. "Companies come into the county because of a low or stable tax rate," said Hooper. "We may be giving property tax incentives to draw them in. But the best thing we can do is to help present companies expand." Hooper said he hesitates to support impact fees for new development because "if we take the money, I feel we must be ready to provide the services."
Glassman, a volunteer fireman and an insurance claims supervisor, opposes impact fees, but said he would support an adequate public facilities law. He also advocates tax breaks for volunteer firefighters to encourage people to join.
In the District E race, Republican Robert S. Wagner is challenging two-term Democratic incumbent G. Edward Fielder, both of Bel Air.
Wagner, 33, and Fielder, 43, have clashed on the growth issue. Wagner criticized Fielder's and other council members' delay in drafting an adequate public facilities law.
"Look at the adequate public facilities bill passed a few weeks ago.
It's a shame that wasn't in place three, four or five years ago," Wagner said. "Now we're at the peak of growth, and we have to fix it quick.
There's no reason two weeks prior to the election you've figured out the answers."
But Fielder said no one in the county could have predicted the extent of the county's growth.
"Nobody knew the magnitude of the problem, and we needed something that was comprehensive," Fielder said. "It was a difficult bill to draft."
The two disagree on the issues of recycling and protecting the environment.