Candidates stick to the issues

Personal attacks rare during Aberdeen forum

hopefuls address water shortages, budget, taxes

October 14, 2007|By Madison Park | Madison Park,Sun Reporter

A little more than three weeks before Election Day, candidates for Aberdeen mayor and the four council seats are campaigning on the city's water shortage, budgetary woes and property taxes.

As the Nov. 6 election approaches, campaign signs and slogans have cropped up on lawns and streets throughout the city. Three candidates are vying for mayor and 10 for four council seats.

All 13 candidates showed up at a forum Wednesday at the American Legion Post, where about 200 people gathered to hear their views.

The candidates sat along a banquet table, dressed in earth-tone suits with American flags displayed on pins, neckties or scarves.

The moderator asked questions about after-school activities for youths, the city's water shortage, growth and property taxes.

The candidates were given 90 seconds each, responding in the order in which they were seated.

Political newcomers used the public forum to introduce their ideas to voters.

"I would like to charge all nonresidential workers an adjustable fee to work in the city. An amount would be determined by me and the City Council," said Nicole Burlew, a 19-year-old mayoral candidate. "I would also like to charge a road fee for all nonresidents who use our roads and have to work on APG."

Burlew, a Towson University junior, also proposed putting the city's budget online, offering financial incentives for residents to identify waste and implementing a message system that would alert citizens about recent council decisions.

Throughout the two-hour forum, candidates kept their disagreements rooted in the issues, such as the water shortage in Aberdeen.

City Council member Ruth Elliott suggested that more wells were needed. "That's a short-term solution," she said. "But at least it might give us more water than what we have now and what we might need in the not so distant future."

Mayor S. Fred Simmons, who frequently clashes with the councilwoman, disagreed.

"Putting another straw into an aquifer isn't going to bring you more water," he said. "There's only so much water in an aquifer. Aquifers are vulnerable."

Burlew said wells were only good for the short term. "I know Ms. Ruth Elliott said we have to start building a well. That's only a short-term solution," he said. "We need to find a way to create a long-term solution. That way this doesn't happen again and there's always water for our citizens."

Several candidates said property taxes are too high and pledged to determine whether there are ways to bring relief to taxpayers. But they avoided promises to lower taxes.

"I'm affected by that as much as you all are. I will use every resource at my disposal to see if we have any ability to reduce that [property taxes]," said mayoral candidate Michael Bennett. "If we do, then we'll do that. If we don't, we'll let you know that we can't."

Council candidates had varying ideas for tax relief, including Bruce Garner, a City Council candidate who suggested that Ripken Stadium be sold. The city owes $6.7 million in stadium-related debt and millions in interest on a payment schedule to 2022.

"Get this bad deal off of our back," Garner said. "Ripken Stadium should be marketed and sold and taken off the taxpayer's back."

There were intermittent moments of levity at the forum. When candidates were asked to rank their top four priorities, most candidates used most of their 90 seconds.

But Councilman Ronald Kupferman took the microphone into his hand and said in a booming voice, "Water, growth, infrastructure and budget."

Then he sat down and passed the microphone to the next candidate as the crowd laughed and applauded.

The event was hosted by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 128 and moderated by David Swain, vice president of the union, which represents police officers in Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace.

The police union organized the Aberdeen forum because the city's police officers requested one, Swain said.

He said the union had not been asked to hold a forum for the election in Bel Air, where seven candidates are running for three town commissioner seats. Bel Air's election is also Nov. 6. Richard Bruno, an Aberdeen resident, said he was impressed by the turnout Wednesday but that improvements could be made.

"The format, it shouldn't be in a row, because it gives the last person to respond a lot of time," he said. "It should've been more random."

Aberdeen candidates

Here are the candidates who filed before the Oct. 5 deadline to run in the Aberdeen's municipal election on Nov. 6.


Bennett, Michael E.

Burlew, Nicole V.

*Simmons, S. Fred


Bell, Jr., Alfred E

Denu, Jr. Richard R.

DeWitt, Bernard

*Elliott, Ruth

Garner, Bruce E.

Grant, Janice East Moorehead

*Hiob, Michael G.

*Kupferman, Ronald

*Yensan, David A.

Young, Ruth Ann[* denotes incumbent]

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