Pierno wins nomination for Harford County Council president PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS 1994

September 14, 1994|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers Phyllis Brill, Mike Farabaugh and Suzanne Loudermilk contributed to this article.

Theresa M. Pierno, a Harford County councilwoman who bills herself as the people's advocate for managed growth, won the Democratic nomination for council president last night, beating businessman and veteran politician Arthur H. Helton by 53 percent to 47 percent.

Mr. Helton said he would not run again for public office.

In the county's other top race, incumbent Sheriff Robert E. Comes fought off George W. Cunningham, a sergeant in the Baltimore sheriff's office, and two veterans of the sheriff's office in the Democratic primary.

Mr. Comes, who received 37 percent of the vote to Mr. Cunningham's 26 percent, won the nomination despite more than two years of controversy over an inmate's death at the county jail and broad accusations of ineffective management.

The race for County Council president typified Harford's long struggle to manage rapid growth.

"It was a hard-fought campaign," Mrs. Pierno said. "What we've done with the resources is phenomenal. Voters are concerned about environmental issues as well as economic development."

Mr. Helton, who said he was not a "rampant, pro-growth candidate," was campaigning until the last minute.

His camp was quiet long before the official results were tallied. The former two-term state senator hugged a few supporters, saying, "That's all we could do. It's over."

"I rode a very precarious platform, that we need opportunity in this county," Mr. Helton said, adding that his message was misrepresented as pro-growth. "I couldn't get that balance in my message," he said. "There's nothing I can do about that."

Jeffrey Wilson, the lame duck Republican council president and a strong Pierno supporter, said at her victory party, "Mrs. Pierno has shown she's had the issues right for four years. She understands the people, and the people are prepared to support her.

"The good guys are going to beat the empire of developers. They are trying to buy and sell Harford County like a cow at auction, and the people aren't going to stand for it."

Mr. Comes said at his campaign headquarters, "I was confident I would win. If the [final] numbers are as high as they say, it sends a message to the public that the sheriff should remain the chief law enforcement officer" in Harford County.

He was referring to a ballot question in November on whether the county should create a police force to replace the sheriff's office as the main law enforcement agency.

Mr. Cunningham, standing outside the election board office, said, "I'm a little disappointed. Bob Comes got the sympathy vote. People felt sorry for him after all those stories in the paper. He doesn't deserve it. You're either qualified or you're not.

"You'll see me back in four years."

Former Deputy Sheriff E. Dale Zepp and former Sheriff Dominick Mele finished third and fourth, respectively, each with 18 percent of the votes.

Nearly 42 percent of Harford's registered Democrats and Republicans turned out to vote.

In the county's contested races for General Assembly seats, Democratic incumbents Rose Mary Hatem Bonsack and Mary Louise Preis were nominated again in District 34 for the House of Delegates. Democrat B. Daniel Riley, an Edgewood activist, won the third slot by a slim margin over Havre de Grace Mayor Gunther Hirsch.

Dr. Bonsack got 28 percent of the vote, Mrs. Preis 25 percent and Mr. Riley 19 percent.

Among Republicans in District 34, Nancy Jacobs captured 39 percent, Scott Williams received nearly 28 percent and Kenneth A. Thompson won the third spot with 21 percent.

Republican Gwendalynne G. Corkran won 57 percent of the vote to defeat Ruth Elizabeth James for the state Senate nomination in District 35.

In contested races for County Council, Republican Mark S. Decker won 58 percent of the vote to beat Christopher O'Shea in the race to fill Mrs. Pierno's District C seat. John F. Haggerty won more than 59 percent of the vote to defeat challenger H. Edward Andrews III in the Democratic race.

In District A, Democrat Habern Dean Freeman, son of state Sen. Habern W. Freeman Jr., won 60 percent of the vote to beat Thomas J. Eser III. On the Republican ballot, incumbent Susan B. Heselton won renomination with 43 percent of the vote over challengers James D. Haney and John A. Myrick, despite her low-key campaign.

In District B, Democrat and community activist Joyce B. Eaton defeated Charles L. Brockmeyer Sr., with nearly 54 percent of the vote. Republican Veronica L. Chenowith defeated five challengers by capturing 27 percent of the vote.


54 of 54 precincts - 100%

% * - denotes incumbent

County Executive


Eileen M. Rehrmann * unopposed


Ronald B. Szczybor unopposed

State's Attorney




Joseph I. Cassilly * unopposed


DEMOCRAT ....... ........ Votes .... %

Robert E. Comes * ....... 7,410 ... 37%

George W. Cunningham .... 5,160 ... 26%

Dale Zepp ......... ..... 3,752 ... 19%

Dominick J. Mele ........ 3,677.... 18%


Joseph P. Meadows unopposed

Circuit Court Clerk


Charles G. Hiob III * unopposed


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