Upset marks mayoral vote in Havre de Grace

May 02, 2001|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

In a surprising rout, challenger David R. Craig yesterday defeated incumbent Philip J. Barker in the mayoral election in Havre de Grace.

In a crowded hallway at Havre de Grace High School, local election official Kenneth Lay announced to a large crowd last night: "Mayor Barker, 695 votes; Mr. Craig, 1,407."

Members of the crowd gasped, many in delight, as Craig, a middle school assistant principal and a former mayor, more than doubled the incumbent's results.

Barker appeared shocked. "I've been overwhelmed," he said. "I really thought people wanted to keep me in office."

Craig, meanwhile, clenched a victory cigar and said that his first order of business when he takes over the city's leadership on May 21 will be to forge a relationship with the City Council and with Harford County Executive James M. Harkins.

"Then I want to look at the finances and the budgets, work on a tax decrease and work on some other projects that I had promised the people who supported me," Craig said.

A total of 2,119 of the 5,744 registered voters in Havre de Grace went to the polls, a 37 percent turnout.

Two council members, Elizabeth E. Coakley and Frederick H. Cullum, were re-elected. They will be joined by newcomer Barbara A. Ferguson.

A major issue facing the new mayor will be the delicate balance of the river city's small-town charm and sense of history with the need for revitalization and growth as a tourist destination.

Craig, a career educator in Harford County, is a former city councilman and state legislator.

Named "Harbor of Grace" in the late 18th century, Havre de Grace has many historic sites, an upscale golf course, quaint bed-and-breakfasts and a growing number of international visitors.

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