Harford courthouse races Sun endorsements: Incumbents merit re-election, led by State's Attorney Cassilly, Sheriff Meadows.

October 09, 1998

MANY Harford countians, especially the thousands who have moved into the bedroom communities near Bel Air, are probably unaware that their state's attorney, injured in Vietnam 28 years ago, gets around in a wheelchair and has limited use of his hands.

Joseph I. Cassilly, 47, is low-key about his disability in his public work, like the man in the photo on his office wall, Bob Dole. Another reason, good for Harford countians, is that there have been few horrific crimes to inject his name into the headlines.

But this relative quiet should not be mistaken for ineffectiveness. Mr. Cassilly, a Republican, merits a fourth term. He continues to bring professionalism and vigor to the job. His conviction rate in drunken driving cases, 94 percent, is highest in the state. A study of his office by an outside consultant, commissioned by Mr. Cassilly to prove his need for more manpower, affirmed his shop is well-run.

His opponent, Bel Air attorney Frederick J. Hatem Jr., contends that the incumbent hasn't reached out enough to victims of crime, for example, to notify them of trial dates. Mr. Hatem has himself been honored for work on behalf of victims. But Mr. Cassilly has improved in that area, creating a four-person domestic violence unit.

Overall, his unflagging energy and prosecutorial experience recommend him for another term.

For sheriff, Democrat George W. Cunningham, retired after 23 years with the Baltimore sheriff's office, argues that incumbent Joseph P. Meadows is by training a lawyer, not a lawman. Perhaps Mr. Cunningham could have sold that argument back in 1994. But Mr. Meadows, a former prosecutor, has proven over dTC the past four years that he can handle the job, which is largely administrative.

We recommend him for another term. He gets solid marks from both sides of the political aisle for restoring professionalism to the office. He is determined to quell crime along U.S. 40 and teen-age drug abuse. He worked hard to win approval to use drug-sniffing dogs in school searches.

In other courthouse races, we see no good reason to replace Charles G. Hiob III as clerk of Circuit Court or Harry L. W. Hopkins as register of wills, both seeking fourth terms. They have handled their jobs with competence.

Pub Date: 10/09/98

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