Harford County Board
Darlington, County Harford
Chief Advisor to the County Executive/Farmer
John Carroll School (1964)
President of Harford County Council (2006-2014)
What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the county and how would you address it?
The most urgent concern is that we maintain and improve the high quality of life for the residents of our district. During my tenure as council chairman and later as district administrator, we cut property taxes four times, saving taxpayers $130 million. We have implemented efficiency measures and given new priorities to public safety and education. We have doubled funding for law enforcement personnel and fully funded the school system budget. We have surpassed 60,000 acres of permanently preserved land. However, given this success, it is not surprising that many people want to move their families or businesses to Harford County. In the future, we must accelerate our efforts to cope with growth by preserving farmland, forests, and open spaces. We must continue to prioritize law enforcement and public safety. We need to make sure there is accountability in our school system. And we must continue to implement the conservative policies and budgets that put the county on this successful path.
What plans do you have to help the county and its businesses emerge successfully from the COVID-19 pandemic?
The county government has distributed over $26 million in business relief grants directly to local businesses to help keep them afloat during the pandemic. We’ve also relaxed as many regulations as possible related to things like outdoor seating for restaurants to help businesses “think outside the box.” We are proud that the Harford County Government did not close a single day due to the pandemic as our dedicated county employees continued to report to work and provide the services our citizens and businesses expect and deserve. As County Executive, I will continue to prioritize our existing businesses and ensure that the County is an active partner in their continued success.
What would be your priorities for future growth and development in the county?
There must be a balance between growth and maintenance to ensure our county is economically strong while preserving our open spaces, environmental resources and rural character. As District Manager, land protection will continue to be one of my top priorities. To date, Harford County has 60,000 acres of farmland conserved, and I will aim to reach 75,000 acres within the next 10 years by providing additional incentives to encourage more landowners to conserve their land. When redevelopment or redevelopment takes place, we must ensure that there are no adverse community impacts or that potential impacts are mitigated. Development should be within designated growth areas and the District should continue to work in a timely and business friendly manner to provide the necessary verification, inspection and permits when all regulations are met.
What level of oversight should the district council have over the health commissioner?
The law designates Harford County Council as the Board of Health, and as such they are responsible for selecting, hiring and (if necessary) recommending the dismissal of the County Health Officer. I have no intention of changing that. It is imperative that the county health officer be someone who is an effective steward and who understands the unique needs and expectations of our county’s residents.
What steps should the county government take to address opioid overdoses and deaths?
We must continue to support organizations like the Klein Family Crisis Center and Addiction Liaison Resource and the county’s Mobile Crisis Team to have a multi-pronged approach to dealing with opioid abuse. We also need to increase the training of peer recovery specialists to work directly with people with drug problems, coordinate treatment resources and support self-help groups.
What role can the county government play to improve education in county schools?
The role of county government is to provide the school system with the resources it needs to ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed and to ensure we are able to attract the best educators and support staff and to hold. During my six years as the district’s chief budget officer, we have increased appropriations for faculty salaries by over $6 million per year (30%). We fully funded the Board of Education’s budget request. And since I was elected Council President, we have built seven new school buildings and undertaken 24 major school renovations. As County Executive, I will continue to provide the resources our students and educators need and continue the program to renovate or replace outdated school facilities. I will also work to ensure accountability in our education system by supporting a fully elected Board of Ed, like 19 other counties in Maryland.
What efforts must district schools make to address systemic racism in education and society?
I believe that every student should have an equal opportunity to learn, achieve and thrive, and it is the Board of Education’s responsibility to ensure that its policies and programs reflect this. As district leader, I will ensure that the district government provides the resources and facilities necessary for all Harford County students to have the opportunity to succeed.
What measures does the county need to take to improve public safety?
I am proud of my record of doubling resources for law enforcement personnel and supporting Sheriff Jeff Gahler’s initiatives that have reduced crime in Harford to the lowest levels on record. We have also nearly tripled funding for volunteer fire and rescue services and oversaw the development of the county’s rescue division to complement our volunteers and the EMS Foundation to meet the growing demand for services. I will continue my strong track record of prioritizing law enforcement and public safety and supporting our sheriff’s deputies, law enforcement officers and first responders as the district executive.
How is climate change affecting the county and what can be done locally to manage the impact?
I’m certainly not a climate expert. But as a farmer whose family was one of the first in Harford County to permanently preserve our farm, I appreciate the importance of healthy land and clean water. I’m proud to be a strong supporter of programs and organizations that preserve farmlands, forests and open spaces for future generations, as well as efforts to combat stormwater and soil erosion. As County Executive, I plan to put us on track to achieve 75,000 acres of permanently preserved land within 10 years, and the Dept. of Public Works and the county’s Soil Conservation District with the tools and resources they need to adequately counteract the runoff. erosion and stormwater management.