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Hogan finally comes to Harford but...[Editorial]

Governor Larry Hogan, left, talks with Congressman Andy Harris as the Governor arrives at a fund raising event at the Hamel residence in Forest Hill on Dec. 11.
Governor Larry Hogan, left, talks with Congressman Andy Harris as the Governor arrives at a fund raising event at the Hamel residence in Forest Hill on Dec. 11. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun)

It was nice to see Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan looking well and able to visit Harford County last Friday for the first time since his inauguration in January.

Hogan was last in the county in early December 2014, when he attended and spoke at the inauguration of Harford County Executive Barry Glassman. At the time, however, Hogan was still the governor-elect.

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A lot has happened to Hogan in the past year, most notably, his battle against non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. After he was diagnosed with the cancer in June, he underwent aggressive chemotherapy over the summer and early fall. Last month, Hogan announced diagnostic tests found him to be "100 percent cancer free." This is welcome news indeed and everyone hopes and prays the governor continues in such a healthy state.

Early in his term, Hogan announced the state would aggressively confront the growing heroin abuse epidemic in Maryland. A similar message came almost simultaneously from County Executive Glassman about Harford County's heroin epidemic, with pledges to support more treatment opportunities for users, step up education programs to prevent people, particularly the younger members of our community, from trying the drug and step up law enforcement to cut off sources of supply. We would say both men have since gone a long way toward living up to those promises.

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Hogan chose to make his first visit to our county at a $1,000 a couple fundraiser for his future re-election campaign, at least two years off, which was held at a Forest Hill home. Many Hogan supporters in Harford and other counties attended, all the usual suspects in local politics – people in government and people not in government known to be reliable contributors to political causes. There was nothing earth-shattering about this gathering, and similar ones have been and will be held across Maryland for Hogan, other officeholders and would be officeholders in the months and years to come.

But while Hogan didn't come to town to make any policy speeches, or cut any ribbons, he did get to drive on our county's extremely congested state highways for which he has provided scant additional money for improvements during his first year, even though he announced a rather sizable highway spending initiative benefiting the rest of the state. Granted, the evening Hogan visited was an extreme case, one even he couldn't help mentioning on arrival – a horrific accident on I-95 tied up traffic for hours on that and every other major road coming into the county. But this is what happens frequently around Harford County, governor.

And, while people have a right to spend their money as they choose, and many of those attending the Hogan fundraiser are also major givers to all sorts of worthwhile charities and organizations in Harford, it's hard to ignore the irony that the $150,000 raised at the Hogan affair could also buy a fair amount of drug addiction recovery treatment, or school books or feed a significant number of poor families at Christmas. Might even help in the fight against cancer.

Let's just say the Hogan visit sent mixed messages, and leave it that.

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