Harford County Government, Officials

October 24, 2004

Harford County was governed by county commissioners from the time it was created by the state legislature in 1773 until 1972. In December 1972, enactment of the Harford County Charter gave the county a system of home rule. The charter provided for legislative and executive branches of government.

The county executive is the chief executive officer of Harford County and heads the executive branch of the county government. Elected every four years, the county executive is aided by a Cabinet of directors from 23 departments and agencies, including Public Works, Treasury, Planning and Zoning, Community Services, Economic Development and Parks and Recreation.

The seven-member Harford County Council operates as the legislative branch. Six council members are elected every four years, one from each of the county's six voting districts. The remaining council member is elected at large to serve as council president. The panel meets in legislative session on the first three Tuesdays of each month.

The Harford County seat is Bel Air.

These biographies of Harford County elected officials are provided by the county:

County executive

County Executive James M. Harkins oversees local government operations for Harford County.

Managing a budget of $495 million, Harkins is charged with ensuring that government services are provided to the county's 218,590 citizens.

Harkins was sworn in as county executive in December 1998. Before his election, he served two terms in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he was ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee. He also served one year on the House Appropriations Committee.

Harkins is a 25-year veteran of the Harford County Sheriff's Office.

His experience as a police officer has led to his appointment to numerous criminal justice committees, including the Maryland Commission on Criminal Sentencing, the Harford County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, and the Governor's Advisory Board for Justice Administration.

Since becoming county executive, Harkins has served on the Governor's Commission on Transportation Investment and the Governor's Task Force to Ensure Utility Services.

Harkins has also served as chairman of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, secretary of the Maryland Association of Counties, and he is a member of Fannie Mae's Southeast Regional Housing and Community Development Advisory Council.

Harkins first ran for elective office in 1986 and won a position on the Harford County Republican Central Committee. He was elected chairman of the Central Committee the next year, and served until his election to the House of Delegates in 1990.

Harkins is a seventh-generation Harford countian.

County Council

President Robert S. Wagner has served three terms as the council member for District E, representing the Aberdeen-Churchville area.

He has served as council vice president for four years. During his tenure, he served on the Council Personnel Committee, the Detention Center Advisory Board, the Commission on Disabilities Advisory Board, the Task Force on the Growth of Harford County, the Department of Social Services Board and the Special Commission on Education Funding, Efficiency and Accountability.

Wagner was born July 1, 1957, and is a third-generation Harford County farmer. He is the son of Hazel B. Wagner and the late Earl E. Wagner. The farming operation consists of raising beef cattle and small grain.

Wagner also operates a custom welding shop at the same location. He is a graduate of Bel Air High School and Harford Community College.

Dion Guthrie has been a resident of Harford County for 36 years, living in the Joppatowne area with his wife, Dianna. They have six children and four grandchildren.

Guthrie has 204 college credits and is a graduate of Antioch University with a bachelor's degree. He also earned bachelor's and associate's degrees from McKendree School of Religion and an associate's degree from Dundalk Community College. He graduated from the Harford Leadership Academy in 2000.

Guthrie enjoys boating and golf. He is involved with helping handicapped children; he has a grandson who attends John Archer School.

Guthrie is a member of the Harford Cable Network Advisory Board and the Susquehanna Region of the Workforce Investment Board of Harford and Cecil Counties, where he serves on the Executive Committee, Business Service Committee, and Youth Council.

Guthrie represents District A, which includes Joppa, Magnolia, Joppatowne and Edgewood.

Veronica Chenowith, a resident of Fallston for 37 years, was re-elected to a third term on the Harford County Council, representing District B.

Before coming to public service, Chenowith spent more than 30 years with her husband managing the office side of their family business. She was co-founder of Fallston Little League Football. Chenowith spent many years involved in the Fallston Recreation Council, serving on the board of directors. She was active in boys lacrosse, boys baseball and boys football.

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