Councilman will not resign

Harford's Cassilly, a Republican, is on Army duty and headed for Iraq

April 25, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

Though called away for Army active duty, Republican Robert G. Cassilly declared in an e-mail message late last night that he would not resign from his seat on the Harford County Council - despite advice from "some very well-meaning individuals" that he step down.

Cassilly is a member of the Reserve who was mobilized in February. He left the council abruptly two months ago for training in North Carolina before a yearlong tour in Iraq that will make it impossible for him to seek re-election this year.

His absence left the council deadlocked on two key issues, resulting in their defeat on tie votes.

In his message, addressed to the citizens of Harford, the county executive and the president and members of the council, Cassilly said he would have voted against both measures - the comprehensive rezoning bill, and a bill to eliminate in-district elections.

"Therefore, in my view, the tie votes and resulting rejections were in each instance the best results for the County," Cassilly wrote.

"I am concerned that my resignation might result in a significant shift of the current balance of interests on the Council in a manner that would not be favorable to the citizens," he continued. "The individual selected by the Council as my replacement might well vote for reversals on the two issues that previously resulted in tie votes. It is especially troublesome that such a major shift would be beyond the voters' control.

"Under the circumstances, the existing balance of interests on the Council should be disturbed only by the voters who will have an opportunity this fall to choose their representative. I will, therefore, continue to hold office through the remainder of my term as the Councilman for District C, albeit in Iraq where I will do my best to protect the interests of the citizens of Harford County."

As he had told a reporter for The Sun on Friday, Cassilly said he is not cashing his county paychecks and that the money will remain in the county treasury.

Cassilly, who represents Bel Air in the District C seat, said the county executive and Council President Robert S. Wagner "have shown an interest in and been appropriately responsive to matters in District C," and expressed confidence they would continue to do so.

Cassilly knew of his deployment about a month before informing the council in February, and he left for training in North Carolina days later. Aside from picking up mail at the county offices while visiting home recently, his communication with the council had been limited, council members said earlier.

Wagner said he was irritated by the lack of communication. "The responsible thing to do would be to step down and relinquish the seat," he said last night, before the e-mail was sent.

But from talking with other county officials, Wagner added, it appeared that Cassilly did not intend to resign.

Except for his term in office running out, Cassilly would have been entitled to hold the position until he returns.

In February, Cassilly indicated that he had not ruled out running for another term, with his family possibly running the campaign while he was abroad. But he had not filed before being mobilized, and a Defense Department directive prohibits political activity, including registering as a candidate, while on active duty.

Cassilly is a lawyer and former Bel Air town commissioner. His brother is Harford State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly, a decorated Vietnam veteran.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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