Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has kicked off all his campaigns for elected office over the past 30 years at the Level Volunteer Fire Company and he does not plan to break that streak Tuesday when he is expected to announce he will run for re-election as county executive next year.
“It’s kind of been a good-luck charm,” said Glassman, 55, who grew up in Level and volunteered with the fire company as a teenager. He remains a member.
Glassman lives in Darlington about 2 miles from his parents’ farm in Level. The theme of Tuesday’s announcement will be “The Level Road Always Brings You Home,” he said.
Gov. Larry Hogan, with whom Glassman says he has developed a solid working and personal relationship during their respective first terms in office, is scheduled to attend and introduce Glassman.
“That should be a big day in Level Village,” Glassman said.
Glassman and Hogan, both Republicans, were elected to their respective positions in 2014.
Hogan attended Glassman’s inauguration ceremony at Harford Community College in December 2014, and Glassman introduced Hogan at a fundraising event for the governor held Saturday at Vignon Manor Farm in Darlington.
Glassman, a former state legislator, said he meets with the governor when he is in Annapolis on Wednesdays during the annual Maryland General Assembly session.
“We’ve developed a pretty close relationship over the last three years,” Glassman said.
The announcement next week will be part of Glassman’s annual fall business breakfast fundraiser. The event is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Tuesday, with the re-election announcement to follow at 9 a.m. Tickets are $150 each or $1,200 for a table of eight.
“I think it’s fair to say that I’m expected to announce for re-election,” Glassman said when interviewed earlier this week. On Thursday, his campaign committee, Friends of Barry Glassman, sent out a news release about Tuesday event and the governor’s attendance, at which Glassman “is expected to announce his re-election bid to remain Harford County Executive for a second term.”
Glassman expressed a desire to shepherd to completion a number of projects he started during his first term.
“There’s some pretty big policy [issues] that I want to get done,” Glassman said.
The business breakfast is usually a time when Glassman gives updates on Harford County business, economic development and the county budget, but he said he will make his campaign announcement and discuss his administration’s accomplishments so far at this year’s event.
“He’s going to try to build on his accomplishments and the administration’s accomplishments over the past four years,” Howard McComas IV, Glassman’s campaign chairman, said Wednesday.
Glassman said his administration has been able to “turn around” the budget, to where the fund balance is growing and county employees have received annual raises.
The administration also completed the HarfordNEXT master land-use plan 2016, and this year’s Comprehensive Zoning Review, initiated last fall, is in the home stretch before the County Council.
Glassman kicked off the process of developing a county-run EMS system, with the first of two backup “surge” ambulances scheduled to go into service in January 2018.
The county is redeveloping the former Glen Echo Furniture building off Route 1 in Darlington for an agricultural services center. The tenants, local and state agencies related to agriculture, should be able to move in around Christmas, according to Glassman.
“I’d like to attract some high-tech agricultural education up there,” he said.
Glassman is also looking forward to the start of construction of a nearly $100 million Havre de Grace Middle/High School replacement building.
The new building would replace the aging Havre de Grace High School and Middle School, currently separate buildings. Harford County Public Schools officials expect construction would start in the spring of 2018 and the building would be open by 2020.
“I’d like to see that finished up,” Glassman said.
Glassman received intense criticism in his first year when he curtailed funding for major capital projects, including the Havre de Grace High School replacement, as he wanted to focus on funding for raises for county employees and getting debt under control.
The Havre de Grace High School alumnus has since committed county funds to the project, with $38 million allocated in fiscal 2018.
“Believe me, there’s plenty to do,” Glassman said, looking toward a second term.
McComas praised Glassman’s efforts to streamline county government and make it more business and citizen-friendly, as well as integrate technology into county services.
“He’s taking it to the next level when it comes to being online,” McComas said.
Glassman has been in elected office since 1990, when he joined the County Council. He was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1998 and the Maryland Senate in 2010.
He said he has announced the start of each campaign at the Level fire company.
“I always go back there for those announcements,” he said. “It’s worked for me, so I don’t want to break my pattern.”
Glassman said his first elected office in the executive side of government, with its duties such as managing personnel, land use, roads, infrastructure and working with multiple constituencies, has been much more demanding than his previous legislative posts.
He said there are “no easy answers” to a number of issues.
“You have to do what you think is best and move on to the next issue,” he said. “You always take a few lumps along the way.”
Still, he enjoys the job, despite the demands, because he loves Harford County and its people.
“If you didn’t love the people and the county I think it would be a tough job to withstand,” he said.
Glassman said Harford County will be “a big piece of the puzzle” for Hogan’s re-election. Harford voters gave Hogan strong support and more than 76 percent of their votes in 2014.
“I plan to be a big part of the helping the governor get re-elected and keeping his numbers high here in the county,” he said.
Glassman was recognized for his years of service to Darlington and Harford County with this year’s “Apple of Our Eye” award at the Darlington Apple Festival Oct. 7.
The honor goes to a person who has “significantly impacted the Darlington and Dublin community with their time, treasure and talents,” Tony Steelman, a member of the Apple Festival board, said Thursday.
Glassman was honored for his political service as county executive and in Annapolis, his outreach to Darlington Elementary School students, support of the local volunteer fire companies, participation in “multiple” community fundraisers, continued involvement in 4-H and how he raises lambs on his property.
“He’s sensitive to the needs of both the rural and business communities,” Steelman said.