With its second new city charter in two years, Aberdeen holds a municipal election Tuesday that offers the century-old community the potential to make a fresh start after the embarrassment of a contentious, petty governance since 1992.
Two City Council members and a mayor will be elected for two-year terms.
The campaign is dominated by the ongoing battle between Mayor Ruth Elliott and at least three other members of the council, including Councilman Charles R. Boutin who is her challenger.
That deep-seated enmity has clearly harmed the city, in issues ranging from personnel management to annexation questions to daily office operations, even though the mayor and council have agreed on some matters to keep the wheels rolling.
In spite of her pretense, Mrs. Elliott is no political outsider after a dozen years in Aberdeen government. She certainly reflects a different point of view, but her unhappiness with the new charter that limits mayoral powers and her animosity toward opponents undermines her effectiveness.
We support the new city charter that took effect last month as an improved system of government. Candidates who cannot support this charter likely won't heal the split that festers in city government and should not be elected, although they are free to lobby outside the council for change.
Therefore, we cannot support Mrs. Elliott, and strongly recommend Mr. Boutin for mayor. He has shown capability and judgment in his first council term; he's experienced in reaching consensus, as he showed as president of the Harford County school board. We feel he would support council decisions as mayor, even if he had voted against them. That is an important charge for the next mayor -- to achieve a workable, responsible city government that can move forward without squelching the opportunity for healthy dissent.
For Aberdeen City Council, we recommend votes for DeWayne Curry, a first-term incumbent, and for Mary Lou Thompson, a political newcomer. Mrs. Thompson shows a commitment to the charter and consensus, a newcomer's fresh perspective and a willing ear for those unhappy with the judgments of the incumbents. Mr. Curry has learned from his initial term. He backs the new charter, is correctly cautious about further city annexations and is active in revitalizing the downtown.
The Sun recommends a vote Tuesday in Aberdeen for Mr. Boutin for mayor and for Mrs. Thompson and Mr. Curry for City Council.