With the opening of the polls only hours away, candidates for office in Bel Air and Aberdeen fanned out yesterday in a final effort to win votes.
Today, Bel Air will elect three of the five town commissioners, and Aberdeen voters will choose a mayor and the four members of the council.
The Aberdeen race has included negative campaigns, and the election was nearly postponed after a rejected candidate sued the city to get on the ballot. Aberdeen's city manager, Douglas Miller, predicted high voter turnout.
Bel Air, a town of 10,000, grapples with issues of traffic congestion and growth. But the campaign there has been relatively peaceful.
"In Bel Air, there's a group of gentlemen running," said Mayor Terence O. Hanley, an incumbent who is running for his second term.
The six other candidates vying for the three town commission seats in the nonpartisan election are: Richard R. Davis, a volunteer firefighter and electrical lineman; James M. Decker, a former commissioner seeking a return to office; Edward Hopkins III, an employee at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency; John W. Janowich, an assistant public defender; Patrick T. Richards, a manager in corporate real estate; and Robert J. Reier, a chiropractor.
Twelve miles away, Aberdeen wrestles with growth issues related to military base realignment and questions of development after a failed annexation attempt last year. The city of 15,000 faces financial questions surrounding Ripken Stadium, property taxes and its water supply.
Two political newcomers, retired state trooper Michael E. Bennett and a 19-year-old Towson University student, Nicole V. Burlew, are challenging incumbent Mayor S. Fred Simmons.
Ten candidates are vying for four council seats: Alfred E. Bell Jr., a government contract employee at Aberdeen Proving Ground; Richard R. Denu Jr., a former Aberdeen police officer; Bernard DeWitt, a defense contract employee; Ruth Elliott, incumbent councilwoman and retiree; Bruce E. Garner, a modular-homes dealer; Janice East Moorehead Grant, a civil rights activist; Michael G. Hiob, incumbent council president and environmental enforcement inspector; Ronald Kupferman, an incumbent seeking his 13th term; David A. Yensan, an incumbent and insurance agent; and Ruth Ann Young, a retired schoolteacher. The winners will serve two-year terms.
Unlike several candidates who distributed fliers, shook hands and waved campaign signs, Burlew, the teenage mayoral candidate, spent her day attending her international relations and constitutional law class.
"We've handed out 4,500 fliers throughout this whole campaign in three weeks," Burlew said. "I don't think there's anything else left to do, but be at the polling place tomorrow. I'm really excited for tomorrow. I can't wait to find out if I got the job or not. Everything's left in the voters' hands."
Harford municipal elections
ABERDEEN Three candidates are running for mayor and 10 candidates are seeking one of four council seats. The winners will serve two-year terms. Registered Voters: 8,018 When: Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today Where: Aberdeen Senior Center, 7 Franklin St. Information: 410-272-2222
BEL AIR Voters will elect three town commissioners from among seven candidates. The new commissioners will serve four-year terms. Registered voters: 6,445 When: Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today Where: Bel Air Town Hall, 39 Hickory Ave. Mayor selection: On Nov. 19, the board will designate a member to serve one year as honorary mayor. Information: 410-638-4551