Bel Air commissioners election set for Tuesday

Two seats on the Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners will be filled in this Tuesday's town election – with just two candidates on the ballot.

Incumbent Commissioner Robert M. Preston, 64, has filed for another term in office, and Patrick Richards, 45, who has never held an elected office, is the other candidate.

Bel Air Town Hall on Hickory Avenue will be open for residents to vote from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The ballot contains the two candidate's names, plus opportunities for two write-ins. There are no ballot questions.

The other incumbent commissioner whose term is up this year, David E. Carey, is not seeking reelection. Earlier this month, Gov. Martin O'Malley appointed Carey to Harford County District Court judgeship, although Carey had said he would not run prior to the judicial announcement.

Carey, 49, has served on the Town Board for 16 years.

Town commissioners serve four-year terms. The terms of the other three board members, Edward Hopkins, Robert J. Reier and Susan U. Burdette will end in 2015.

In a recent interview, Preston, president of Preston's Stationery, said he hopes his 11 years of experience on the board and track record will grant him another term in office.

"I know how the town runs and I think we've done an excellent job over the past years," Preston said. "I'd like to see those improvements continue."

Preston said his goal is to continue to work toward building up Main Street and the town. He said one of the biggest highlights of is tenure building the Bel Air High School auditorium.

Richards, a corporate real estate executive for Laureate Education, formerly Sylvan Learning Center, said he hopes to use his real estate and finance background to help the town successfully allocate funding for its yearly budget.

"I bring a good working knowledge and experience to any real estate issues that the council might wrestle with," Richards said in an interview.

This isn't Richards first time in the political game. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for town commissioner in 2007 against six other candidates for three seats on the board.

Richards has been a member of the town's planning commission for at least a decade.

According to the Harford County Board of Elections, there are 7,093 people registered and eligible to vote on Tuesday, of whom 6,595, are considered active voters – people who have voted in a recent election and for whom a current address is available. Either way, anyone who is registered can vote, active or inactive.

Judging from past town elections, Tuesday's turnout won't be very high.

During the last town commissioners election in 2011, only 11.3 percent of the 6,182 active voters in town voted, according to the Harford County Board of Elections, when five candidates ran for three seats.

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