The four candidates in the Aberdeen Board of Commissioners race say the town must focus its attention on upgrading municipal services, from repairing streets to increasing salaries at the police department.
The candidates, all registered Democrats, say there is not any one leading issue that must be addressed by the Aberdeen commissioners.
But high on the list for the four candidates in the May 7 election is expansion of the town's economic base so it can afford to improve town services, such as streets, water and police services.
The four candidates will compete for two open seats on the five-member board during the town's non-partisan election May 7. Commissioners sit for two-year terms.
The candidates are: John M. Bailiff, William Benjamin Jr., Ronald Kupferman and Macon L. Tucker Jr.
Kupferman is the only incumbent in the race. The town's other incumbent commissioner, Raymond H. Warfield, is not seeking re-election.
Like many other small towns, Aberdeen faces the question of how to continue providing quality public services in lean economic times.
Kupferman saidAberdeen may not be able to expand municipal
programs so the towncan maintain its staff of 100 workers and protect its budget surplus.
Bailiff said Aberdeen may have to look for new sources of revenue to keep its programs going so the town doesn't rely on property taxes to provide the main source of money.
But Benjamin said Aberdeenshould continue to have a strong financial base, thanks to the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground nearby, which provides town residents with jobs and businesses with customers.
But to strengthen the town's tax base, he said, Aberdeen should
develop incentives for industries to move into the town.
Tucker said the town also needs to find ways to attract businesses to fill vacancies in the town's shopping centers.
Below is a summation of the candidates' backgrounds aswell as legislative and other proposals they would pursue if elected.
* John M. Bailiff
Bailiff, 50, said he has run for Aberdeen commissioner at least eight times during the last 10 years but has never been elected.
Bailiff, who owns and runs the King's Chair barber shop in Ja
mesway Plaza, said the main reason he is running for commissioner is to bring new ideas into town government.
"(The commissioners) need some different ideas," Bailiff said. "It's too much of a buddy system. Everybody seems like they're afraid to make waves."
If elected, Bailiff said he would work to get the town to increase the amount of money going to the police and public works departments.
Bailiff praised the town police department, but he said Aberdeen should increase the salaries of police officers to retain quality offi
The town also needs to increase the amount of money going into improving streets, storm drains and the sewage system, Bailiff said. If these projects are delayed, they will be more expensiveto finish in the future, he added.
To raise revenue for capital projects, Bailiff said he would propose the town consider establishinga motel tax based on occupancy rates, surcharges on cable televisioncompanies based on the number of customers, and a tax on lottery tickets.
Bailiff, a Cecil County native, moved to Aberdeen 32 years ago, to work at his cousin's barber shop. He then opened his own shop in 1968.
Bailiff and his wife, Soei, live on Northgate Road. He has four children.
* William Benjamin Jr.
Benjamin hopes this year's commissioners race will mark his return to Aberdeen politics.
The 72-year-old Democrat held a commissioner's seat for two terms in the early 1980s. He was then defeated, but was later appointed to theboard to fill a vacancy for about 18 months.
"I've got the experience," Benjamin said. "I just feel I can help out. I've been civic-minded all my life."
Benjamin said he wants to see if Aberdeen can find its own
sources of water, rather than buying its supplies fromBaltimore.
The candidate said he also wants to step up the town'srepairs of streets and sidewalks.
Benjamin said he realizes that the water and street repair programs will take money, which may be difficult to raise in lean economic times.
Benjamin, a Chestertown native, moved to Aberdeen in 1946 to work at APG. He has a degree in mathematics, and retired from the Army's Ballistics Research Laboratory in 1974.
Benjamin and his son, William III, operate Safety FirstCo., which distributes firefighting supplies. The Benjamins bought the company in 1988.
Benjamin, a widower, has two children. He lives on Grove Street.
* Ronald Kupferman
As the only incumbent in the race for commissioner seats, Kupferman said Aberdeen needs his experience to provide continuity on the town board.
Kupferman, 50, has been a commissioner since 1979. He served as mayor from 1981 to 1985.
Kupferman dismissed Bailiff's claims that the town is run on a"buddy system."
"I don't see that at all," Kupferman said. "The town is running real, real well."
Kupferman said his top accomplishment as a town commissioner has been his role in changing Aberdeen's image.