Three Harford County officials don't have opponents in the 2014 election, and each one has expressed his or her gratitude for the "vote of confidence" from the community.
Circuit Court Judge Yolanda Curtin, Register of Wills Derek Hopkins and County Councilman Joe Woods are unopposed. No candidate stepped forward to challenge them in this year's primary or general election before the 9 p.m. deadline to file on Feb. 25.
"I am so excited about that," Curtin said during a recent interview in her chambers in the Harford County Courthouse. "I like the vote of confidence the legal community has given me."
Curtin, a resident of Jarrettsville, is the newest judge on Harford's Circuit Court bench; she was appointed during the fall of 2013 and is running for a subsequent term.
She is the first Hispanic judge to serve on the Harford circuit bench and is one of three women on the five-judge bench.
Curtin said this year's election is her first run for elected office. She has previously served as a state administrative law judge and an assistant state's attorney.
Even though she does not have an opponent and does not have to campaign extensively, Curtin said she still plans to remain visible in the community.
She was the keynote speaker during the county's annual Joseph Bond/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Awards Luncheon in January.
"I am making it a point to go to whatever function necessary so the citizens of Harford County can meet their judges and see their judges outside of the courtroom," she said.
Register of Wills
Hopkins, a Republican, is running for his second four-year term as register of wills. The Register of Wills office is responsible for overseeing the administration of the estates of people who have died, including appointing personal representatives to administer individual estates, according to the office's website.
"The biggest thing is that I'm humbled to be unopposed. but it's not going to change the way I work and the way we do the business of the Register of Wills office," he said last week.
Hopkins said Register of Wills staff will continue to give "the same compassion and understanding" to the families of the deceased who come to his office.
He also said he and his staff will continue their community outreach efforts to educate the public "about the importance of estate planning and the importance of a will."
Hopkins, who had never held public office, was elected to his post in 2010 He was an auctioneer and performed estate appraisals for attorneys across the state before he was elected.
Four years ago, when he ran to succeed the late Harry L.W. Hopkins (no relation) who had decided to retire after 24 years, Derek Hopkins had to win a crowded Republican primary and then beat another candidate – last name Hopkins, of course – in the general election to secure the office.
Hopkins, 37 and a resident of Pylesville, said he has also volunteered with the Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company since age 16.
"I look forward to helping the citizens of Harford County for another four years," he said.
Woods, Republican, is seeking his third term on the Harford County Council representing District B, which serves Fallston, Joppa, Abingdon and greater Bel Air.
"It a huge vote of confidence; I'll tell you that," he said of running unopposed.
Woods is the former fire chief for the Fallston Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Company; he was appointed to the seat of the late Councilwoman Veronica "Roni" Chenowith in 2009 after she died from cancer.
He won the Republican primary for his seat in 2010, but he was unopposed in the general election that year. He's the junior member of the seven-member council in terms of service. The other six are either completing the second or third full terms.
"Being completely unopposed, that's interesting," Woods said Wednesday. "It's a shock; I guess I really assumed somebody would run."
He added: "I'd like to think that it means people have a lot faith and respect in what I'm doing."
Woods noted the central committees of the Democratic and Republican parties in Harford had up to six days after the candidate filing deadline to select a candidate to be on the ballot against an unopposed candidate.
The deadline to do so was March 3, Dale Livingston, deputy director for the Harford County Board of Elections, said.
No one has filed to run against Woods.
"The competitive side of me wouldn't mind having a general [election]," Woods said.
Woods said a candidate who is placed on the ballot after being selected by his or her party's leaders, rather than filing, could not be considered a legitimate contender for the office.
"I guess their allegiance is more to their party than their community at that point," he said.
Wood said he still plans to put out about 25 campaign signs and "work the polls just like I always do."
"It's a good place to see people that you normally would never see," he said.
Woods said being unopposed "re-energizes" him.
"You get beat up so often on various issues, and then this pops up," he said.
Livingston said there are a few unopposed candidates for local offices during each gubernatorial election cycle.
"It doesn't happen all the time, but yes, you're going to have one or two people running unopposed for a seat," said Livingston, who has been with the Board of Elections since 2007.