Harford's Craig defends 'challenging time' during last State of the County speech

Fresh on the heels of his announcement he would repeal the state income tax if elected governor, Harford County Executive David Craig reiterated his final state-of-the-county speech at the county's Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood.

Craig made no mention of his splashy announcement from earlier this week, sticking to the outlines of the state-of-the-county address he delivered to the County Council earlier this month.

"It's been a challenging time," Craig told the group about his nine years at the helm of county government.

He then launched into stories about why challenges are not necessarily all they are cracked up to be, citing a U.S. Marine captain who missed a helicopter only to watch it explode and Abraham Lincoln, who told his wife he had the best day ever just before he was assassinated.

"When we think of something being challenging, we really have to compare it to other things," Craig said in a somber tone, telling the crowd "we just keep moving on and doing what we are supposed to do."

Standing behind banners showing off the six pillars of his administration – environmental stewardship, education, quality of life, economic opportunity, efficiency in government and public safety – Craig looked like the educator he originally was, although he joked about the pillars not being on a chalkboard.

Craig praised his employees, saying that in the world of sports, coaches know the most important thing is to have a good team of players.

He pointed out Chief of Staff Aaron Tomarchio, who was set to leave the county for a position with Erickson Living on Friday.

Several department heads, including administration director Mary Chance, public works director Tim Whittie and economic development director Jim Richardson attended, as did County Councilman Jim McMahan and Harford Community College President Dennis Golladay.

Craig thanked them for having "kept Harford County very solid and successful."

He talked about his refusal to pass the buck but also mentioned his solution to the county's trash removal challenge with a quip about passing the trash down the road.

"It goes to Baltimore County now," he said, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Sheriff Jesse Bane, meanwhile, during his opening convocation, called Harford County "one of the greatest counties in America."

He thanked God for the county's "prosperity" and asked for "continued prosperity."

Chamber of Commerce President Pam Klahr presented Craig with gifts from his hometown of Havre de Grace, including a large decoy from Pat Vincenti Decoys and chocolates from Bomboy's candy store.

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