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Two incumbents, two newcomers file in Bel Air commissioner election

Robert Preston

Two challengers are taking on two incumbents so far in the race for three seats on the Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners.

Registered voters and residents of the town will vote Nov. 8 for three seats on the board. Of the incumbents, Robert Reier and Eddie Hopkins, have filed to run again. They will be going up against Brian Gregory Adolph and Susan U. Burdette, according to Town Administrative Assistant Laura Stafford. Commissioner Terry Hanley's seat is also up for election; he said Tuesday he hasn't ruled out running again.

Adolph, 28, ran in the 2009 election, losing by seven votes to David Carey and by eight votes to Robert Preston, who both retained their seats that year. It was that "rewarding and valuable" experience the first time around, as well as the amount of support he received, that led Adolph to run again this year.

"I was very overwhelmed by that support," he said, "so that's a big reason why I've given thought to going again this year."

Another reason for his interest in running stems from his family, his wife, Caroline, and 1-year-old daughter, Louisa. The family lives in Bel Air, as Adolph has for the past seven years, and "enjoys the things that the town has to offer."

Running for a commissioner seat, for Adolph, gave him a chance to give back to the town his family enjoys, as well as "help shape a better future" for his daughter.

At this point in his campaign, Adolph said he is focusing on the business owners within the town and discussing with them why they choseBel Air and what the town can do to help their businesses grow.

"I'm trying to get in touch with as many business owners as I can, within the town limits, in the next few weeks and I'm really just excited to hear their feedback," he said.

So far, he said, the reaction from residents has been positive, especially those living in a condominium setting, but he wants to reach out to more constituents in the coming weeks.

Adolph, who is an environmental safety health director at Maryland Materials Inc. in Cecil County, is involved in various aspects of the town already, including as a board member for the Moores Mill Manor Condominiums.

He also serves on the Board of Appeals for the town, Adolph said, and volunteers at St. Margaret's Church inBel Air.

His work with Maryland Materials, and previously as a civil engineer, prepared Adolph for this position, he said, giving him experience in the bureaucratic process, as well as working with government agencies.

For now, Adolph hasn't identified one issue in particular he is concerned about, he said, choosing to focus on reaching out and getting in touch with more people in the coming weeks.

Also on the ballot will be Burdette.

Burdette, 58, retired from the Harford County Public Library system last year, after working there for 35 years in positions ranging from marketing manager to librarian, she said Tuesday. Her friends and family told her to wait a year before volunteering or getting involved in the community again and she took that to heart.

"It's been exactly a year this week," she said, "and I just decided I really miss public service and I think I have the knowledge and the skills to do this position."

Her time with the library system gave her experience working with governmental budgets, various committees and strategic planning, she said, all of which helped prepare her for the position. Burdette also has many mentors, she added, including her husband, Steve, who served on the Bel Air Board of Commissioners from 1994 to 1999, according to an article in The Aegis,, and her father, a former senior vice president of First National Bank.

As for the condition of Bel Air, where she has lived for at least 24 years, Burdette praised the town's work so far and their ability to offer quality services during difficult economic times. With her budgeting experience, Burdette said she wants to help the town "maintain services without putting a burden on the taxpayers of Bel Air."

Hanley said Tuesday he has not ruled out the possibility of running for re-election, but had not made the decision yet.

"It's going to be a decision that I carefully think through," he said, adding he needed to sit down with his family and would make the decision soon.

The deadline for filing is Oct. 7 by 7 p.m., with a $25 filing fee. Only registered voters and town residents, for at least six months prior to the election, can file.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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