The four members of the Harford County Council who are running for re-election this year face varying degrees of opposition to hold onto their seats that range from none, to very little, to some.
With early voting getting under way Thursday for the June 24 primary election, one of the four races is decided and a second will be after the primary votes are counted. Early voting runs daily through Thursday, June 19.
In District B, covering greater Fallston, western Abingdon and part of Joppa, Councilman Joe Woods, a Republican, doesn't have a primary opponent, nor has any Democrat filed for the seat.
In District D, covering the northern third of the county, Councilman Chad Shrodes will know his fate after his Republican primary contest with Jonathan Grimmel, as the Democrats have failed to field a candidate in this race for the second straight election and aren't expected to put one up before the general election.
The prospects are a little more iffy for Councilman Dion Guthrie in District A, covering Joppatowne and Edgewood, and Councilman Jim McMahan in District C, covering greater Bel Air.
Guthrie, seeking a record-tying fourth term, doesn't have opposition in the Democratic primary but will have to face the winner of a two-way Republican primary in the general election.
McMahan has two challengers in the Republican primary and then in the general will have to face a Democrat who doesn't have a primary foe, if he is to secure a third term.
The following are brief background summaries of the candidates and their positions on school funding. For more detailed information about the candidates and their position on this and other issues, visit data.baltimoresun.com/voter-guide/local/harford.html.
District A – Republican
Yvonne Baldwin: Age 48, lives in Joppatowne; owner western wear store and licensed Realtor, member of Joppa/Joppatowne Community Council; Republican nominee for District A council seat in 2010.
To fund the school system and pay teachers "in a fair and competitive salary range," Baldwin says she is "totally for cutting government waste and making the resources already available."
"We should look to consolidating/merge services in an effort to reduce county expenses and funnel money saved to the schools," says Baldwin, who would not rule out consolidating and closing schools in the face of declining enrollment. "Building [multi-million dollar] facilities seems inappropriate when teachers have not had raises in seven years," she says.
Mike Perrone Jr.: Age 37, lives in Edgewood; CPA and financial analyst; leader of The Sharing Table at Prince of Peace Church that provides meals and groceries to needy Edgewood residents; co-founder Harford Campaign for Liberty, first-time candidate.
Perrone says he would support providing more money for schools "if we can find the money elsewhere" and suggests the first two places in the county budget to be cut are the economic development and planning and zoning agencies.
"The Department of Economic Development wastes a lot of time and money loaning or outright giving away our hard earned tax dollars," Perrone says. "If the level of unnecessary regulations in our 366 page zoning code is reflected in the staffing levels of the [planning and zoning] department, then I am sure we can find cost savings there as well."
District A - Democrat
Dion Guthrie: 75, lives in Joppatowne, retired; legislative liaison Route 40 Business Association, active member Joppatowne Lions Club, Workforce Investment Board Harford and Cecil counties; member Greater Excellence in Education Foundation; elected to county council in 2002, re-elected 2006 and 2010; no primary opposition.
"There can be a number of issues, like combining services between the county and board of education which would free up millions that can be used for wages," says Guthrie. "Paying more attention to 'people' and less to 'brick and mortar' would be one way to start."
Guthrie also notes that "we have schools that are 65-70 percent capacity; redistricting would save millions" and adds that the school system is over staffed in some areas. "When we build a new should, we should make the first floor office [space] that can be rented out and those funds used to operate the school like they do in California."
District B – Republican