Harford courthouse races Sun endorsements: Democrat Cunningham for sheriff, GOP's Reilly for court clerk in primaries.

September 10, 1998

THE SHERIFF'S RACE in Harford County isn't as prominent as four years ago when voters weighed whether to switch to a police department for law enforcement, with a chief serving at the pleasure of the county executive. Residents firmly opted to stick with an elected sheriff. The makeup of the crime-fighting force is no longer a hot issue, but crime still is.

Juvenile crime and drug-use are particularly alarming. Heroin-related hospital admissions for people under 18 grew ninefold, faster than anywhere in the Baltimore region. More than a dozen Harford youths died from overdoses in the past two years.

Against this backdrop, George W. Cunningham and Kenneth M. Morris Jr. are vying for the Democratic nomination. Each seeks to oppose first-term Republican incumbent Joseph P. Meadows in the general election Nov. 3.

Mr. Cunningham owns a security business. He retired last year after 23 years with the Baltimore sheriff's office, including management of its fugitive unit and witness protection program. He ran unsuccessfully for Harford sheriff in 1994.

We endorse Mr. Cunningham, not because he vows to pledge $10,000 of his yearly salary to begin a Sheriff's Athletic League similar to Police Athletic Leagues elsewhere, but because of his law-enforcement background.

For Clerk of Circuit Court, Gloria H. Kaminski and James Reilly seek the GOP nomination. Three-term incumbent Charles G. Hiob III is unopposed for the Democrats. Ms. Kaminski, who has worked in the office for six years, sees a need for greater employee input and training.

"I'm just a worker who got fed up and tried to do something about it," she says. Her effort is sincere.

Our endorsement, however, goes to James Reilly, a corporal in the Baltimore County Police Department. His pledge to enhance computerization in the clerk's office is bolstered by his work on data bases for the county police and as a computer instructor at Harford Community College. As clerk, he says he would be more "pro-active" in law enforcement by ensuring that police and judges have the latest information on repeat offenders. The office should begin taking applications for marriage licenses and other documents over the Internet, he says.

Action in other courthouse races will have to wait until the BTC general election. Four-term State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly, a Republican, and Democrat Frederick J. Hatem Jr., a former city attorney in Havre de Grace, are unopposed for their party's nominations. So are register of wills candidates Harry L. W. Hopkins, a Democrat and three-term incumbent, and William Carl Huffman Jr., a Republican.

Harford County courthouse races

Sheriff: Democrats are George W. Cunningham and Kenneth M. Morris Jr. Republican Joseph P. Meadows is unopposed. Salary: $70,000; Term: four years

Clerk of Circuit Court: Republicans Gloria H. Kaminski and James Reilly. Democrat Charles G. Hiob III is unopposed. Salary: $62,500; Term: four years

State's Attorney: Democrat Frederick J. Hatem Jr. Republican Joseph I. Cassilly. Both are unopposed in primary. Salary: $74,500; Term: four years

Register of Wills: Democrat Harry L. W. Hopkins. Republican William Carl Huffman Jr. Both are unopposed in primary. Salary: $61,000; Term: four years

Data: 1994 primary turnout: 59% of Democrats, 41% of Republicans.

Pub Date: 9/10/98

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