Wagner, Barker for Harford Council

October 21, 1994

If there's one striking feature of Harford County politics this year, it's that more Republicans are showing up on the ballot, some having forced contested primaries for the first time in memory.

That point is emphasized, in different ways, by the races in County Council Districts E and F.

Republican Robert S. Wagner was unopposed in District E until after the filing deadline, when the Democratic Central Committee drafted Ruth B. Frank for the Nov. 8 ballot. That the Democrats were without a candidate was unusual; so was the committee nomination, which Republicans rarely bothered to make in past elections.

Ms. Frank, who is assistant to the Aberdeen city administrator, stresses the need for better representation for municipal residents and communities along the Route 40 corridor.

Mr. Wagner, a Churchville cattle farmer, unseated a two-term councilman four years ago in the anti-incumbent landslide. He has actively represented his rural constituency. While less interested in originating legislation, Mr. Wagner has been a refreshingly blunt voice of dissent to the majority, refusing to go along with the hallway caucuses that have secretly crafted positions during council meetings. He merits re-election.

The contest in District F pits incumbent Democrat Philip J. Barker against Republican Mitchell Shank. Mr. Barker, a four-term Havre de Grace City Council member, had no GOP opponent in his first County Council race four years ago.

Mr. Shank, a homemaker and legislative aide, wants more aggressive lobbying in Annapolis and innovative development of Harford tourism and jobs. He has worked extensively as an advocate for Havre de Grace tourism.

While Mr. Barker has not been the most dynamic member of this council, he has developed thoughtful proposals on key issues, including regulation of adult bookstores and the ethics code. He is criticized for compromising too quickly on his stands, and as a direct conduit for ideas of the Democratic county executive. But he has succeeded in quietly achieving results. His representation of the county's older and retired residents is also important. We endorse for re-election Mr. Barker in District F and Mr. Wagner in District E.

=- Monday: Harford County Council president.

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