Week In Review

November 13, 2005

Council candidate wants apology

A Republican candidate for the Harford County Council is demanding an apology from his Democratic opponent, Councilman Dion F. Guthrie, after Guthrie took down the challenger's campaign signs that were posted next door to a Joppa residence where Guthrie was holding a fundraiser.

A half-hour before Guthrie's Oct. 29 campaign kickoff fundraiser was to begin, Guthrie said, he and his son, a Baltimore police officer, removed political signs for Chris Biggs from a neighboring residence because he said they were posted on Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. property.

Police were called to the scene by the neighbor, Robert Nadler of the 500 block of Anchor Drive, who said Guthrie was trespassing and had taken the signs from his private property. Guthrie told police Nadler assaulted him. No charges were filed, according to a police report.

Biggs, a political adviser who has been an aide to state Sen. Nancy Jacobs and who has announced his intention to run for Guthrie's seat next November, said he was surprised when told about the incident and said he wants Guthrie to apologize.

Guthrie, the only Democrat on the council, held the fundraiser at the home of a friend.

Metro section, Nov. 11, Page 4B

Simmons wins Aberdeen election

Businessman S. Fred Simmons defeated incumbent Douglas S. Wilson last week 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.

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

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.

Despite the loss, Wilson, a 52-year-old accountant, made 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.

Metro section, Nov. 9, Page 4B

Population may increase by 58,000

Harford County officials said last week that they are expecting at least 58,000 people to flood the region surrounding Aberdeen Proving Ground over the next decade from a reshuffling of the nation's military bases that will be signed into law today.

State officials have said Central Maryland could see 60,000 settle in the region as a result of new military and private-sector positions, many of which Harford County says it could see in its immediate area. Estimates of job totals - particularly those in the private sector - have climbed throughout the process, and officials say that will likely continue.

"My sense is that the numbers of people coming in will change dramatically and keep increasing," said Aris Melissaratos, the state's director of economic development.

The two epicenters of expansion are Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County and Aberdeen Proving Ground. Fort Meade expects 5,300 government jobs, while APG recently revised its projection to more than 6,100 new jobs.

In two to six years, those jobs - plus tens of thousands of contractors - are expected to spark an unprecedented influx that has federal, state and local leaders discussing billions of dollars in upgrades to infrastructure.

Harford, with a population of 235,000, expects most of APG's new workers to settle there, with others landing in Baltimore and Cecil counties. The three jurisdictions have teamed up for a marketing effort to entice new businesses and developers.

The National Security Agency estimates it will hire three contractors for each of its 7,500 new counterterrorism jobs, most of which will be placed at Fort Meade. The number of new government and private jobs there could surpass 40,000. Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens said the county has been planning for this influx for years, and has placed transportation and education issues at the top of its agenda.

At APG, the Pentagon's original plan was to include a net increase of 2,200 on-post jobs. But officials said those numbers were altered after a change in how the military accounted for the outgoing ordinance school's personnel, raising APG's tally to 6,100.

Metro, Nov. 8, Page 4B

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