After six terms, Hess not likely to be reappointed to Harford liquor board

Unless Harford County state legislators and members of the Harford County Council decide differently, Donald St. Clair Hess will not be reappointed to the Harford County Liquor Control Board after his sixth term expires March 31.

Hess, who has been the board's chairman the past several years and is an 18-year member, has been passed over for renomination by County Executive David Craig, to be replaced by Hess' brother-in-law C. John Sullivan Jr.

"I think I'm very lucky, I got six go's, I was at it for 18 years. I think I did a lot for the board, I think I did a good job," Hess said Thursday. "Would I have liked a seventh term? Sure. Did I get one? No."

The terms of Hess and Vernon Gauss expire March 31; the Harford state delegates and state senators received two nominations for the seats Wednesday for terms that start April 1, Sen. Barry Glassman, a Republican representing northern Harford County, said Wednesday

Along with Gauss' name for reappointment, Craig forwarded Sullivan's name to the legislators for appointment to the five-member board.

Sullivan, director of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, is the former director of the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation and supervisor of the same office in Harford County. He is also the father of C. John Sullivan III, the deputy chief of staff for agricultural affairs for Harford County, working for Craig. He is also Hess' wife's sister.

"The administration thanked Mr. Hess for his years of service, and wanted to offer someone else the opportunity to excel in that position and move forward in the future," Harford County government spokesman Bob Thomas said Thursday. "We have full faith and confidence in Mr. Sullivan. We think he will do a fine job on the liquor board for the citizens of Harford County."

It will be up to the board members to vote on a chair once the new appointments have been confirmed by the county council.

Not surprised

Hess said he wasn't completely surprised he wasn't reappointed to one of the Democratic Party seats on the board.

"That's the way it is, it's a political appointment," he said. "Basically it's the choice of the county executive."

He said Craig's chief of staff, Aaron Tomarchio, called Hess to tell him he would not be reappointed.

"I was told 'You've done a wonderful job but it's time for someone else to get a turn,'" Hess said.

The Fallston resident said he thinks he's done a good job and has worked well with all of the Harford delegation members, as well as the other members of the liquor board.

"I thought I deserved another [term]," he said.

During his tenure as chairman, Hess has been outspoken about liquor law violations by licensees, especially those caught selling alcohol to minors and, in particular, those who fail to ask for identification.

Under his leadership, the board has also dealt with high profile cases involving the revocation of the license for a business where a near riot occurred after closing time, another involving the suspension of tavern that served a man after hours who was later involved in a head-on fatal collision and another involving a liquor store in Bel Air whose license the board pulled after the business' financial backers were convicted of federal conspiracy charges. The latter establishment's new owners received a license from the board last fall, over the objection Hess and one other board member.

Annapolis action

The county's legislators have seven days from when the nominations are received to vote on them. If the members take no action at all, the names are automatically forwarded to the Harford County Council for approval.

Glassman said he can't recall a time the delegation failed to voted on the appointments and believes the members will do it by the time their seven days are up Tuesday. When they vote will be up to delegation chair Del. Rick Impallaria, a Republican representing western Harford County.

"We've had a good relationship with Mr. Hess," Glassman said. "He's been on the board for a good while. He's done a good job, we'll leave it to the county executive who he wants to put on there."

Glassman said, however, that after 18 years on the board, it may be time for "another set of eyes looking at stuff."

Under the state law governing liquor board appointments in Harford, the county executive sends nominations for each vacancy to the county's senators and delegates for their approval. After the county executive selects an approved nominee for appointment, her or she must also be confirmed by the county council.

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