Businessman wins Aberdeen mayor race

Incumbent loses

record turnout recorded

November 09, 2005|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

Charismatic businessman S. Fred Simmons defeated incumbent Douglas S. Wilson last night to become mayor of Aberdeen, ending a contentious campaign that saw a throng of candidates vying to lead the growing military outpost.

Simmons, 53, who launched his campaign early with signs asking "Who is Fred Simmons?" was elected to the town's top post as voters also shook up the City Council, removing two of four incumbents, and struck down a referendum that would have granted police binding arbitration in collective bargaining.

The turnout - more than 2,200 - was a record for the city.

"The voters identified problems and came to the polls," Simmons said shortly after the results were announced. "It's invigorating and humbling to see that kind of turnout, and I'll do the best I can for them."

In Bel Air, two incumbents won re-election to the Town Commission.

Aberdeen voters entering the city's polling station at Aberdeen Senior Center yesterday got a taste of what the town will be like with their new, higher-profile mayor. Simmons is well-connected in the city and county.

While most candidates stood along the building's sidewalk holding signs and campaign literature, Simmons set up a large tent and arranged for an airplane to fly overhead pulling a banner bearing his name.

Simmons will begin his two-year term as local, state and federal officials begin to plot how to manage the growth on its way to the region as a result of the military's base consolidation plan. County officials said Monday that 70,000 people could move to Harford and surrounding areas over the next decade as a result of the new jobs headed to Aberdeen Proving Ground.

While the weeks leading up to Election Day were fraught with contention over failed salary negotiations with police, voters rejected by a slim margin a charter amendment that would have given police the right to send disputes to an arbitrator, whose decisions would be binding. It failed 1,134 to 1,062.

The city told residents that with a tight budget, binding arbitration could have led to increased property taxes, which some voters said turned them off.

Despite the loss, Wilson, a 52-year-old accountant, put on a strong showing, garnering 718 votes to Simmons' 1,092. He had gone unchallenged in the previous two elections since winning by one vote in 1998.

In addition to Wilson, Simmons also beat out challengers Myra Fender, a 69-year-old real estate agent and former mayor, and Janice Grant, a 72-year-old civil rights activist and teacher. It was the first time the city has had more than two candidates for mayor.

In the council race, incumbents Michael G. Hiob and Ronald Kupferman received the most votes, followed by newcomer Dave Yensan and Ruth Elliott, the city's first elected mayor, in 1992.

Across the county in Bel Air, a much milder election played out with incumbents David Carey and Robert Preston retaining their seats on the Town Commission. Newcomer Stephen Cannon, 27, decided to run after the town considered canceling elections because of a lack of challengers.justin.fenton@baltsun.com

Aberdeen Results

MAYOR

S. Fred Simmons 1,092

Douglas S. Wilson 718

Myra A. Fender 292

Janice Grant 158

CITY COUNCIL

Michael G. Hiob 1,294

Ronald Kupferman 1,167

David A. Yensan 1,107

Ruth E. Elliott 1,091

Jerry K. Hansen 1,082

Bernard Dewitt 727

Georgina M. Bantum 664

CHARTER AMENDMENT

The measure would give Aberdeen police "the right to organize and bargain collectively through representation of their choosing," and require the city to "submit to binding arbitration any disputed issues not limited to wages and terms and conditions of employment arising out of the negotiations of a collective bargaining agreement which has not been successfully negotiated within 180 days after the adoption of this amendment ... "

Against the amendment 1,134

For the amendment 1,062

Bel Air Results

BOARD OF TOWN COMMISSIONERS

David E. Carey 457

Robert M. Preston 375

Stephen Cannon 316

S. Fred Simmons

Age:

53

Professional experience:

Owner, Simmons State Farm Insurance; president, Simmons/Wright Aero Park

Education:

Bachelor's degree, University of Delaware

Political/civic experience:

chairman, Aberdeen Economic Development Commission; trustee, Harford Community College; member, Harford County Economic Development Advisory Board; board member, Ripken Stadium Management; board member, Cecil Federal Bank

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