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Seven candidates, including four newcomers, file in Havre de Grace city council election

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The race for three seats on the Havre de Grace city council this year will see a big contingent of candidates from the Bulle Rock community.

As the filing deadline closed Tuesday, seven candidates had signed up to be on the ballot May 8. Three of the four newcomers are from Bulle Rock.

All three incumbents – council members Bill Martin, Jim Miller and Fred Cullum – will also be in the race again.

Among the challengers, Barry Scarborough and David Glenn, who filed earlier this month, have been joined by Robert Sawyer and Joseph Smith who filed in the final days before the deadline.

Sawyer filed last Friday and Smith filed on Monday, city spokesman Jim Newby confirmed Wednesday morning.

"Everyone is excited now that there's three candidates from Bulle Rock," Smith said. "Part of the feeling is it would be good to have some representation from all areas of the city... By having three candidates, we have certainly gotten people's attention."

He said he was not acquainted with the other two Bulle Rock candidates, Scarborough and Sawyer.

Smith, 48, who was active in the Bulle Rock Civic League, said he hopes the presence of candidates from the large, new community will shake up the race and the established network, or incumbency, in the city.

"A lot of residents in Bulle Rock are new to Harford County, new to Havre de Grace. One of the goals of Civic League was to bridge the gap and get the vote out," Smith said. "There's been a history of incumbency, I guess, and people have decided that sometimes it's good to shake things up a little bit, add new blood."

Martin, the council president, recognized the large number of candidates during Monday's council meeting, saying it is good to see many new faces in the election.

While other jurisdictions might call Havre de Grace vulnerable or unstable for having elections essentially every year, Martin said he believes the opposite to be true.

"It validates our democracy," he said.

Business, political perspectives

Smith, who grew up in Michigan but has lived on the East Coast for 25 years, moved to Havre de Grace in 2006 with his partner of 24 years. They do not have children.

He does human resources consulting for a global executive search firm and is also a certified project manager for information technology systems.

"I have a pretty broad understanding of business, but also of government, because I have worked with a large number of federal clients," he said. "I understand the business perspective and what can we do in government to support that, how we can support our school system."

Also, he said, his father ran for the equivalent of a state delegate in Michigan.

"I have been sort of politically active in different ways for most of my adult life," Smith said. "I got the bug early... I think the beauty of our system is that anyone is able to participate and at times people have to step up and take a leadership role."

Involved with vets, community

Scarborough, 47, also is a newcomer both to the election and to Havre de Grace.

He moved to the city in 2009 from southwest Baltimore with his wife and three children and is now a stay-at-home dad.

Scarborough is a disabled veteran who has been involved with the American Legion and chaired the residents association in Bulle Rock, where he lives.

On running for city council, he said last week, "I think it's something where I have been involved in a lot of organizations, [and] I can serve all of them better on the council."

"The one thing I have noticed is, it's a small town but it's not as small as the town I grew up in, Pendleton, Ind.," Scarborough said. "A lot of times, you may be able to get more done in a small town than in a big city."

Volunteer, schools booster

Glenn e-mailed a biography that details his involvement with Havre de Grace schools.

He graduated from Towson University in 1979 and said he has spent countless hours volunteering and giving back to the community.

"I will be committed to being fiscally responsible with your taxpayer dollars," Glenn wrote. "Havre de Grace is one of the best kept secrets in the state of Maryland. It should be the 'tourism stop of choice.'"

"My goal can be summed up in just six words: 'I want to make a difference,'" he added.

Glenn said he has played an instrumental role in the Meadowvale Elementary's renovation effort, serves on the James Harris Field committee and is active in the Children's Miracle Network.

He is interested in building a new Havre de Grace High School, a magnet program for the Havre de Grace community, improved traffic safety, a continued focus on youth programs and resolving the city's water and sewer issues.

Seeking wider representation

Sawyer moved to Bulle Rock from Catonsville, Baltimore County, in 2005 with his new wife, Carly. The couple now has three children.

He said he spent four years in the Navy on the U.S.S. Independence, has a background in computer science and math and attends Saint Patrick Catholic Church.

"The primary reason that I am running is that Bulle Rock is currently not represented in the city council," Sawyer wrote in an e-mail. "Bulle Rock has gotten the raw end of the deal on many fronts. [T]rash, [s]nowplowing are a couple of examples."

"City government should give high value to the taxpayers, be fair and honest and competitively bid out all work that is being subcontracted to the private sector," Sawyer wrote. "As the Bulle Rock community grows we could consider purchasing and converting our two historic properties to schools so the children in the community don't have to be bussed."

Sawyer said Havre de Grace is a "pleasant small town" and he wants to preserve its quality of life.

"I have around 20 years of rigorous professional computer experience and can provide leadership on computer expenditures and projects," he wrote. 

Significant experience

The three incumbents, Miller, Cullum and Martin, are all also hoping to preserve their seats and lengthening careers on the city council.

Miller is seeking his fourth term, Martin his third and Cullum is running for a ninth term. Council members serve two-year terms.

The last day for candidates to withdraw is April 3.

The last day for voters to register is April 17.

Voters must be city residents for at least 21 days, and can register either at city hall, the Havre de Grace library, the board of elections in Forest Hill or online at http://www.elections.state.md.us.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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