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Republicans battle for legislative seats in Harford, Cecil District 35

Redistricting since the last election has significantly altered the boundaries of Legislative District 35.

What was formerly an all-Harford County district encompassing Abingdon, Bel Air and the northern third of the county has been shifted eastward to take in western and northern Cecil County, with the Bel Air area and Abingdon moving into neighboring District 34.

The district's State Senate seat and the two delegate seats representing the Harford County portion of district are open this election because of retirements or incumbents running for another office. The winners of the two delegate seats will be first-timers in Annapolis.

For the third delegate seat covering an all Cecil County subdistrict, one of the senior members of the House awaits a general election challenge from one of three Republicans vying for their party's nomination in Tuesday's primary election.

Senate race

District 35 has more than 84,000 registered voters. The Senate seat has been held for the past seven years by Republican Barry Glassman, who is running for Harford County executive this year.

One Democrat, Bridget Kelly of Perryville, and two Republicans, Del. Wayne Norman, of Bel Air, and Tom Wilson, of Rising Sun, are running for Glassman's Senate seat.

The winner of the primary contest between Norman and Wilson will go on to face Kelly in the general election in November.

Norman, a lawyer, was elected to House of Delegates in 2006 and re-elected in 2010 and is the ranking Republican on the House Environmental Matters Committee.

"I am running for this Senate seat as I am the most qualified candidate," he wrote in an email. "I am pro-jobs and pro-small business. I am against new taxes and regulations, and I am respected by both sides of the aisle in the Capitol."

Wilson, who is a former member of the Cecil County Republican Central Committee, has been campaigning for the state Senate on a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment platform, which also calls for the repeal of "burdensome" taxes, the opposition of Common Core State Standards and support of "constitutional local government," according to a list of policy positions he provided.

"With more than 25 years of experience as an accomplished business leader, and with a firm grasp of American history and an understanding of the original intent of our founders, I am confident that I can bring solutions to bear on solving Maryland's challenges," he states on his campaign website.

Kelly, the unopposed Democratic candidate, is a retired educator who has also worked with foster children in Harford County through the CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, program. She is also a member of Cecil County Library Foundation.

"I am a public servant, not a politician," she wrote in an email Tuesday. "In office, I will continue to focus on the principles I used as a high school administrator: community, compromise, consensus and commitment. Every voice matters – every voice heard."

District 35A-House

District 35A has nearly 26,000 registered voters, including 10,005 Democrats, 10,383 Republicans and 5,601 unaffiliated voters, according to Cecil County Elections Director Debbie Towery.

The district covers the east bank of the Susquehanna River, including Perryville, and the northeastern portion of the county around Elkton, Rising Sun and North East.

The lone Democrat in the race is incumbent Del. David Rudolph of Rising Sun; he was drawn out of his current district after the state's 2012 redistricting and into 35A, Towery explained.

In addition to serving in Annapolis for nearly 20 years, Rudolph is the director of the Teacher Education Program at Cecil College, according to his website.

"I am proud to have the opportunity to go to Annapolis to do the state's business, and return to Cecil County to serve my community," he states on the website.

There is a three-way Republican primary as the candidates seek the nomination to challenge Rudolph in November.

The candidates include Kevin Hornberger of North East, John Mackie Jr. of Elkton and Mary Podlesak of Elkton.

Hornberger is president and owner of Blue Collar Engineering Inc., which provides temporary power and HVAC for sites at large-scale events and construction sites, and he is the facility manager for the Library of Congress.

This year is his first run for elected office.

"The main reason [for running] is, I don't feel that the incumbent is representing myself, as well as the other citizens of the district," he said of Rudolph Wednesday.

Mackie is a retired Realtor, but he still holds a real estate broker's license. He made an unsuccessful run for clerk of courts in Cecil during the early 1970s.

"My main problem with Maryland right now is their violations of our constitution," he said.

Mackie said the state and federal governments have violated the Bill of Rights with initiatives such as campaign finance reform, which he considers a violation of freedom of speech, and gun control laws which he considers violations of the right to keep and bear arms.

Podlesak, who is a native of Buffalo, N.Y., is a homemaker. She ran as a Republican write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and 2012.

She is running to promote job growth and reduce taxes and regulations, and to maintain a state government that adheres to the constitution. She also wants to reduce the $8 toll to cross the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge, which she said is hurting economic growth in Cecil, especially the Perryville area.

"My kids are having trouble getting jobs around here, and I know that they are not the only ones," she said.

District 35B-House

District 35B covers northeastern Harford County and northwestern Cecil along the river and inland.

Voters will send two delegates to Annapolis, and both seats are open because of the retirement of two-term Del. Donna Stifler and Norman's decision to run for the Senate.

There are 14,012 registered voters in the Cecil County portion of 35B, including 4,715 Democrats, 6,327 Republicans and 2,970 unaffiliated, according to Towery of the Cecil elections board.

There are 43,679 registered voters on the Harford side, including 13,496 Democrats, 21,613 Republicans and 8,570 unaffiliated, according to Dale Livingston, deputy elections director for Harford County.

There is a three-way race for the two Republican nominations among Andrew Cassilly of Havre de Grace, Jason Gallion of Churchville and Teresa Reilly of Whiteford.

The Democrats have fielded two candidates, Jeffrey Elliott of Bel Air and Daniel Lamey of Pylesville, which means both will make the general election ballot as their party's nominees.

Cassilly is the assistant supervisor for resource conservation for Harford County Public Schools, whose job is to reduce "operational cost by identifying and reducing inefficiency and waste," he wrote in an email. He is married with three children.

"I am running for office because of the over-taxation and inefficient and wasteful spending of the current administration," Cassilly said. "I will apply at the State level what I have learned working with the business community on improving my school system."

Gallion is a Harford County farmer and past president and fire chief of the Level Volunteer Fire Company, according to his campaign website. He is married and has a daughter.

"I will be a strong Conservative voice for the people of District 35B, where I will work tirelessly every day to promote our rural values," Gallion states on his website. "When elected I will lead the fight against out of control spending and over-taxation that threaten family budgets."

Reilly is a member of the Harford County Republican Central Committee, and she serves as chief of staff for Del. Norman, who is running for the District 35 state Senate seat, according to her campaign website. She is married to James Reilly, clerk of circuit court for Harford County, who is running for a fourth term.

"My candidacy and the policies I will endorse are a reflection of my respect for working people and our rights guaranteed by the constitution," she states on her website. "As your delegate I will facilitate greater responsiveness, citizen inclusion, transparency and fiscal responsibility in fulfilling the duties of the office."

Lamey is an assistant vice president at a banking center and an Army veteran, having served as a military policeman. He is also married with four children and 10 grandchildren, according to an e-mail he sent Tuesday.

"As a resident and small business owner in the community, I have a strong desire to deliver results for Maryland families by choosing to do the things that work to create jobs, expand opportunity and make Maryland a safer, healthier place," he stated in his e-mail.

Elliott could not be reached for comment.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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