Endorsements for Bel Air commissioners

March 09, 1995

The election of three Bel Air town commissioners will be held Tuesday with a crowded field of 11 candidates, including two incumbents.

This is the second election in a row that has produced a large number of hopefuls for the four-year positions on the town board. Two years ago, seven candidates entered the race.

All of this suggests a high level of civic awareness and involvement in the town of Bel Air, the Harford County seat. That's probably true in terms of public issues, although it is not reflected in voter turnout. Only 17 percent of eligible voters went to the polls in 1993, and a scant 13 percent the previous election.

That's disappointing in itself, because the five town commissioners make many critical decisions that directly impact the lives of Bel Air citizens, from water and sewer rates to property taxes to critical zoning, traffic and annexation matters.

Even more disappointing in this election is that five of the 11 candidates admit that they have never voted in a town election. While each has been a resident of Bel Air for different lengths of time, all were eligible to register and vote in the 1993 poll and did not.

Holding an off-year, municipal-only election at a time of typically dreary weather is one explanation for the low rate of voter participation. But it's not a valid excuse for individuals who casually shirk their duty on election day, then raise cain when the town board makes a controversial decision.

Incumbent Susan K. McComas, a lawyer, is seeking her third term and deserves re-election for her understanding and involvement in key issues.

Architect Stephen C. Burdette has served only two months, appointed to replace Mark Decker, who was elected to the County Council. But due to his valuable community experience and his initial impression, we recommend him to voters for a full term.

For the third spot, we endorse insurance broker Robert E. Greene, an advocate for small business who has been active in community organizations. He's also a former county personnel director.

Regardless of personal choice -- and there is an encouraging number of qualified, sincere candidates -- we urge the 5,700 eligible voters of Bel Air to take their civic responsibility seriously. Polls at Town Hall are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

For Bel Air town commissioners, we endorse Susan McComas, Stephen Burdette and Robert Greene.

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