New judge's focus is on community

Circuit Court's Hargadon is hailed as a tireless organizer and activist

May 18, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Dan Klocke, Community activist Edward R.K. Hargadon, who was appointed Baltimore Circuit Court judge this week, acknowledges that he almost didn't make it through law school as a young man.

He dropped out after his first year, disenchanted with the process.

He saw himself as a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy, more impressed with morals than money, and he promptly got jobs as a cabdriver and a cheese server at Lexington Market.

After a year, he had a realization.

"A law degree was just a tool I could use to do what I really wanted to do: public service," said Hargadon, now 47 and principal counsel for the Maryland Department of Transportation.

He earned his degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1980, which launched not only his career in law but equipped him to be an effective community activist from his home in Charles Village.

Becoming a judge, he said, will merge his two worlds.

"I live these two separate lives," Hargadon said. "I have a job in the attorney general's office. And in this other life, I'm very active in the community. It's a way to combine the two."

Hargadon replaces Judge John Carroll Byrnes, who retired in January. To retain his judgeship, which pays $119,600, Hargadon must run for election in 2004.

As a judge, Hargadon said, he brings two things to the bench that will help him.

"Respect for community and individuals," he said. "As a judge you have to realize you're a servant, a public servant."

He has spent much of his career as a lawyer in the state attorney general's office, working as principal counsel for the state Motor Vehicle Administration and Port Authority.

He also tried private practice twice, and in 1996 made an unsuccessful bid for the 2nd District City Council seat.

"I've always loved politics," he said.

Hargadon and his wife, Valdone Kuciauskas, have two children, Alex, 15, and Lina, 12. He says Charles Village is "the best place for anyone to live."

He is president of the Charles Village Community Foundation and the Charles Village Recreational League. He is former president of the Baltimore City Community Relations Commission, and he wrote the Fair Housing Law, which was passed by the Baltimore City Council.

He is also a founding member of the Charles Village Community Benefits District.

Hargadon is one of 10 children born to a Baltimore Police sergeant and a homemaker. He spent his childhood in Morrell Park and Violetville, insular neighborhoods of Southwest Baltimore.

He graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School in 1972 and University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 1976.

When he went to law school, he left Southwest Baltimore and moved to lower Park Heights, shocking his family.

"It was like I was moving to Wisconsin," he said.

Like many who grew up in the 1960s, his role models are the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

"I was shattered, just shattered when Bobby Kennedy was killed," he said.

The living man he admires most is Jimmy Carter.

Hargadon's neighbors know him as a tireless organizer and activist who is the first to get his hands dirty.

"Ed's the one who's going to be there at the festival at 5 in the morning, setting up tables, hauling trash barrels," said Frank Jannuzi, president of the Charles Village Community Benefits District. "Later in the day, he'll be serving cold ones to enthusiasts who showed up at the festival."

Dawna Cobb, deputy counsel for the educational affairs division in the attorney general's office who also lives in Charles Village, said Hargadon is the only person she feels comfortable calling at 6:30 a.m.

"At 6:30, we've both been up for hours and have a million things to do," Cobb said. "He's a person you can always count on to do whatever job you need to get done. He's the guy who will be putting up tents in the pouring rain."

Dan Klocke, executive director of the Charles Village Community Benefits District, said he has visions of Hargadon cleaning alleys and setting up tables.

"He's the consummate go-to guy in the community," Klocke said. "If you want a salesman for your community, Ed's the one. And I don't mean that in a slick way."

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