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Three incumbents, two challengers running for Havre de Grace City Council; Mayor Martin will be unopposed in May 4 election

Five candidates are running for three seats on the Havre de Grace City Council this year, including incumbent council members David Martin, Jason Robertson and Carolyn Zinner, and challengers and Tammy Lynn Schneegas and Rich Wehner.

Incumbent Mayor William T. Martin, who has led the city since 2015, is running unopposed. He also ran unopposed for his current term in 2019.

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All six candidates had the opportunity Tuesday evening to discuss their backgrounds, why they should be elected or continue in office and their positions on multiple issues affecting the city during the Ontario-Otsego Positive Action Committee’s annual candidate forum.

Dr. David Jaffe, president of OPAC, moderated the virtual forum via Zoom, which was live on the city’s YouTube channel Tuesday, and his wife, Brenda, served as time keeper. A video recording of the forum, which lasted about two-and-a-half hours, is available on YouTube, or people can see it on television at 8 p.m. next Wednesday, April 28, via Harford Cable Network.

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Jaffe noted he had received multiple submissions from residents regarding topics for the forum, and he consolidated them into “at least 17 excellent questions that people have sent in” for the candidates.

The topics were about issues such as Harford County Public Schools’ ongoing balancing enrollment process, which has raised concerns among residents and elected officials in Havre de Grace — as well as the candidates — that elementary students could be transferred to under-capacity schools outside city boundaries, thus putting them on a pathway to middle and high schools outside Havre de Grace after the community has spent years working to get a new middle and high school in town — the $80 million Havre de Grace Middle/High School opened for the current school year and is serving students four days a week after they have spent most of the year learning virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other topics included how the city has handled the pandemic and its impact on the local economy, how the city should spend an estimated $11.7 million it is slated to receive from the federal government through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, potential ways to reuse University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital after it closes in the coming years after Upper Chesapeake Health opens its free-standing medical center in Aberdeen, their thoughts on how the Havre de Grace Police Department interacts with the community — in light of the conviction Tuesday of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

The candidates also gave their views on issues such as comprehensive planning, potential restrictions on pesticide use in municipal parks and other open space areas, water and sewer infrastructure and how best to control speeding drivers on city streets.

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The city election will be Tuesday, May 4; the polls will be in Havre de Grace City Hall, at 711 Pennington Ave., and they will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. More information is on the city website, or people can call 410-939-1800 with questions.

David Martin

David Martin has lived in Havre de Grace since 2012 and was first elected to the City Council in 2015.

He served in the Maryland State Police from 1974 until his retirement in the early 1990s. Since then, he has worked in the private sector in the areas of planning and management for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Surface Technologies, Home Depot and Oldcastle in White Marsh.

“Since being on the City Council, I have been a strong advocate for the Havre de Grace Police Department, the Ambulance Corps and the Susquehanna Hose Company,” he said.

Martin is active in the Maryland Municipal League, serving on the MML’s legislative commission and its board of directors as vice president for District 10, representing Cecil and Harford counties. He also serves on multiple City Council committees and city commissions such as the water and sewer commission, ethics commission and the tourism advisory board.

“My vision for Havre de Grace is to maintain the historic charm of the city while moving into the 21st century,” he said.

Jason Robertson

Jason Robertson is running for his third two-year term, having served on the City Council since 2017. He is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and is currently a noncommissioned officer in the military reserves. Robertson also is second vice commander for American Legion Post 47 in Havre de Grace.

He works as a budget analyst for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has been an analyst for Baltimore City and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, plus he worked in the White House on resource hiring initiatives for veterans and their families.

“I just love being involved in the community, love serving the community, love serving my country,” he said.

Robertson is married and has a son who attends Havre de Grace Elementary School, so balancing enrollment is “at the top of my mind,” he said. He also serves as a council liaison to the water and sewer commission, economic development advisory board and the youth commission.

“I’m just happy to be here,” Robertson said. “[I] love this town, love all of you, and hopefully you’ll come out and support me again on May 4.”

Tammy Lynn Schneegas

Tammy Lynn Schneegas has been an educator for 30 years and works with high school students with special needs. She serves on the city’s arts commission and is a member of the Havre de Grace Green Team environmental organization, plus she has volunteered with multiple organizations such as Girl Scouts, the Kiwanis Club, the Susquehanna River Running Festival and Soroptimist International of Havre de Grace.

“It is with gratitude that I have found such a thriving, vibrant and friendly community to embrace as my home,” she said.

Schneegas has lived in multiple parts of the country, which she believes helps her bring “a multi-faceted perspective toward serving the community” and pledged to be “a voice for our citizens.” If elected to council, she will pursue initiatives such as public safety, education, outdoor recreation, cultural arts and “sustainability for the present while working toward our future.”

“My decision to run for city council stems from interacting with many civic minded and environmentally conscious people,” she said.

Rich Wehner

Rich Wehner has lived in the city since 2018 and made an unsuccessful run for City Council in 2020. He said his short time living in Havre de Grace gives him “a fresh perspective” on city issues.

His career comes with a “track record of experience in both financial and managerial” fields in the private sector and state agencies such as the State Highway Administration and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. He now works for the Department of the Army in the service’s Global Veterinary Medical Practice, which operates veterinary clinics on military bases around the world.

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“I don’t get complacent, I don’t get comfortable,” he said of his career path. “I’m always looking for the next improvement, the next challenge and the next paradigm to break.”

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Wehner serves on the board of his neighborhood’s homeowners association, as well as the city’s economic development advisory board. He noted his time on the HOA has required making “tough decisions” and maintaining fiduciary responsibilities.

“You may not always like me, or you may question my thought processes,” he said.

“I can assure you now that your best interests are what will drive me,” Wehner continued. “I will always work toward the future of Havre de Grace; I will never sacrifice the right thing to do for a small bit of short-term popularity.”

Carolyn Zinner

Carolyn Zinner and her family have lived in the Havre de Grace and Perryville area since 1993, and Havre de Grace has been their primary residence since 2008. She was appointed to the council by the mayor in 2018 and elected to her first full term in 2019.

“Serving as your representative on council is a distinct honor and privilege, which I respect and cherish for many reasons,” she said.

Zinner became involved in city government after she retired from a 30-year career in healthcare in 2018. She started as a medical technologist, specializing in microbiology, and then moved into “clinical informatics.” She later “flew all over the country,” visiting hospitals to help them implement information systems technology, retiring from Delaware-based ChristianaCare.

Zinner serves as council liaison to commissions such as the arts commission, historic preservation commission and independence day commission. She also is a member of Soroptimist International of Havre de Grace, which puts on the annual Art Show and raises money to support local young women through scholarships and other initiatives.

“I want to continue to call on these collective experiences, to continue building on our many accomplishments these past several years,” she said. “I believe the best is yet to come, and I look forward to continuing my role and voting for good legislation and more improvements to continue to bring our city forward.”

William Martin

William T. Martin served on the City Council from 2008 until he was elected mayor in 2015. He is finishing up his sixth year as the city’s chief executive.

“From the time I get up in the morning until the time I put my head on the pillow, I can’t stop but think how awesome my city is — I’m inspired by the men and women who make up my city,” he said.

Although Martin is running unopposed, he encouraged voters to check the box next to his name on the ballot when they go into the polling place May 4, noting that “it means a lot to me.”

“With me you’re going to get my honesty, you’re going to get my judgement and you’ll get my integrity,” he said.

Martin stressed the need to “keep moving this city forward,” noting that “if you’re not leading, then you’re following.”

“Havre de Grace is the place, I feel in my heart, is what every American wants their community to be like,” he said. “We want to be a part of the community, we want to be part of something great, and that’s what inspires me as your mayor.”

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