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What's it like to be mayor of Aberdeen, Bel Air or Havre de Grace? [Editorial]

Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady talks with a reporter from The Aegis inside his city hall office last month.
Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady talks with a reporter from The Aegis inside his city hall office last month. (Jen Rynda for The Aeghis / Baltimore Sun)

In its Aug. 3, 5 and 10 editions and online at www.theaegis.com The Aegis is presenting profiles of each of Harford County's three mayors.

The series kicked off Wednesday, Aug. 3 with Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady, followed by Bel Air Mayor Susan Burdette on Friday, Aug. 5 and by Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin slated for Wednesday, Aug. 10.

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The late House of Representatives Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill is known, among other things, for making the observation that "all politics is local," and it very much is to a great extent. And local government, be it county or municipality in Maryland, is where the rubber meets the road, to borrow another well-worn phrase that probably originated from one of the real life Mad Men.

Together, the three Harford County municipalities are home to only about 16 percent of Harford County's 250,000 residents, but they also are major employment, commercial, government and cultural centers that draw thousands more inside their borders daily. How these places are governed and the services they provide affect a considerable number of people, and the people elected to oversee them have an important job, if for no other reason than they are setting the tone for how things get done.

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The mayor's duties and powers differ from municipality to municipality. The current Harford mayors have held their positions for between 18 and eight months, making this one of the rare instances in local history where all three positions have turned over to new people within such a short period. The three mayors are from different generations and wholly different backgrounds, including in their "real" lives when they aren't being mayor, if that actually happens.

As "the mayor," they are also the faces of the respective cities and town, cutting ribbons, welcoming visitors and answering a myriad of residents' complaints. They tend to be the first person residents turn to when they have a problem and the last to get credit for solving it. A job? Not really. Being a mayor in Harford is about serving your community, sometimes 24/7.

Harford's three mayors may have different backgrounds, styles and positions, but they all made that same choice to serve.

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