Guthrie seeking to stay on council

Democrat decides against state Senate bid

June 04, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

After flirting with the idea of running for state Senate, Dion F. Guthrie filed last week to retain his seat on the Harford County Council representing Joppatowne and Edgewood, one of several candidate filings in key races.

"I wanted to talk to my constituents, and they basically said I've been very effective on the council and that they'd like to see that continue," Guthrie said Thursday, an hour after registering with county Board of Elections.

Guthrie, the lone Democrat on the seven-member council, had received encouragement from state party leaders to run against Republican Sen. Nancy Jacobs. In recent weeks, Guthrie used nearly every public appearance to criticize the county's Annapolis delegation, fueling speculation that he would enter the race.

Despite a significant advantage in registered Democratic voters in the district, Jacobs has won two terms in the Senate. Guthrie said he made his decision a month before the July 3 filing deadline to give the party time to search for alternative senate candidates.

In 2002, Guthrie beat Republican incumbent Susan B. Heselton by 60 votes. Four years earlier, he failed in a bid for the House of Delegates.

"At the state level, he'd come up against stiff competition with big money," said Joppa activist Carolyn Hicks. "I think he's probably better off where he is, but we really do need a change in Annapolis."

Paula Mullis, the president of the Harford County Republican Women, and Christopher J. Biggs, an Edgewood activist and former aide to Jacobs who is expected to file, will vie to become the Republican challenger to Guthrie in the general election.

Other significant filings last week included Billy Boniface for council president. He is the son of prominent horse breeder William Boniface who died in September.

Boniface is president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. He will compete in the Republican primary against incumbent Robert S. Wagner and newcomer Aaron Kazi.

All three have picked up early endorsements in a race that likely will be decided in the primary. Boniface is backed by Del. Barry Glassman, while outgoing Councilman Lance C. Miller said he supports Wagner. Kazi, a relative unknown, has been endorsed by Del. J.B. Jennings and recently went door-to-door with Jacobs.

Robert A. Benedetto Sr. entered the race for sheriff as a Republican. A 28-year veteran of the Baltimore County police, Benedetto is the safety and security coordinator for the county school system, which recently decided to beef up security with tougher visitor ID policies that check for sex offenders, and keyless entry systems for some school buildings.

Benedetto will face Norman Cochran, a former president of the Harford Republican Club and a long-tenured law enforcement officer, in the primary. Warehouse manager Dave Tritt also has announced his intention to run.

L. Jesse Bane, a 34- year-veteran of the sheriff's office, and Terry W. Serago will compete on the Democratic ticket.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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