County Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, elected Tuesday to the post he has held as an appointee for nine months, says the new Republican-dominated council's agenda is already in place.
"During the past nine months I endeavored to bring forward an agenda and I believe it is in place: managing growth, strategic planning and environmental protection," said the 34-year-old Wilson.
"I believe the new council will pick up this agenda, and we now have a stronger group to work on it."
Wilson, one of five Republicans elected to the seven-member council, received 24,320 votes, or 52 percent. He carried 11 of 44 precincts.
A Street resident and minister, Wilson won 2.5-to-1 in his home precinct, and had a 3-to-1 margin in one Havre de Grace area precinct -- his challenger's home territory.
His Democratic opponent, District F council member Frederick J. Hatem, a semi-retired obstetrician, took 20,110 votes, or 43 percent. He made his strongest precinct showings in his home area of Havre de Grace, and in Edgewood and Aberdeen. Hatem was not available for comment on the election.
"The biggest difference between Dr. Hatem's campaign and my campaign is that he campaigned on his person -- the beloved physician -- and I campaigned on issues," said Wilson. "I think people said 'He (Wilson) is listening to us and wants to lead Harford County in terms of where we want it to go.' " Michael Davall, chairman of the county Republican central committee, said he thought Hatem's votes on the proposed Gravel Hill rubble fill near Havre de Grace hurt him in the election. Most recently, Hatem voted against the county appealing a judge's decision that cleared the way for Maryland Reclamation Inc. to seek state permits for the rubble fill. The project has been opposed by some citizens' groups.
"That hurt Hatem in areas where he should have been strong," said Davall. "And Wilson had a good slogan, ran a well thought-out campaign and surprisingly had support from labor unions. You usually don't have a Republican candidate being supported by unions."
Wilson was endorsed by the Harford County Education Association, which represents public school teachers in contract bargaining.
When the new council starts its term Dec. 4, Wilson said, he plans to continue to push for environmental preservation and better methods to control and direct growth in the county.
In his first nine months as council president, Wilson devoted much attention to legislation that would set up a program so that development rights on agricultural land could be sold and used in an area already designated for growth. That bill passed in October.
Wilson said that in its new session, the council will be taking a close look at developing an adequate public facilities law that would regulate development in areas where public services such as roads, schools and sewers are overwhelmed.
Attracting new business to Harford was another of the agenda items Wilson campaigned on. He has called for changes in the rules regarding county purchasing specifications.
"When we write a specification for a county project and write it in such a way that precludes a Harford County company from bidding, we have not serviced the people of Harford well," Wilson said.
He has also said he will work on proposals to solve the county's sewer and water problems.