Bel Air Town Commissioner Susan Burdette’s fellow commissioners elected her as chair of the town board, which carries the honorary title of mayor, for the fourth year in a row, Monday evening.
The five-member board also re-elected Commissioner Brendan P. Hopkins to a second year as vice chair.
Burdette reflected on how she has spent the past year in that role talking about the Town of Bel Air before multiple local and statewide organizations, even at the White House.
“I have to tell you, there’s no other town in the entire world that I’d be more proud and happy to talk about,” Burdette said.
Burdette is a native of Salisbury on the Eastern Shore, and she has lived in the Harford County seat since the late 1980s. Her husband, Steve Burdette, was a town commissioner and mayor from 1995 to 2000.
Susan Burdette retired from the Harford County Public Library in 2010 after 35 years with the library system. She was elected to her first two-year term as a town commissioner in 2011 and became board chair in 2015.
“I’m very passionate about this town,” she said Monday.
The chair and vice chair serve one-year terms, according to Michael Krantz, director of administration and human resources.
“We appreciate your leadership in all that you do,” Commissioner Philip Einhorn told Burdette.
Burdette said she has talked about the Town of Bel Air before multiple organizations and people, such as Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, schools, state legislators, the Harford Leadership Academy, the Maryland Municipal League and mayors’ associations. She visited the White House Sept. 20 for the Women Mayors of America conference; she was among about 100 mayors and community leaders from across the nation.
Top federal officials, such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to President Donald Trump, spoke during the conference, and Vice President Mike Pence delivered a welcome speech.
His wife, Second Lady Karen Pence, hosted the event.
“I’ll continue to talk about our town with pride,” Burdette pledged.
Hopkins, a former Harford County Sheriff’s Office corporal and Baltimore County 911 dispatcher, was elected to his first term on the town board in 2015. He became vice chair in 2017, succeeding long-serving Commissioner Robert Preston, who stepped down last year after nearly 15 years on the town board.
“I think we made a good team together this past year,” Burdette told Hopkins.
She said Hopkins he “has been really helpful.” One area in which he helped was by readying and studying a 400-page document about the 90-million gallon reservoir, or impoundment, being built for Maryland American Water.
Maryland American, a private firm, supplies water to about 5,000 customers in the Town of Bel Air. The impoundment is being built on the former Mt. Soma farm off of Route 1, near the company’s water treatment plant along Winters Run, to provide a backup water supply for the town in case of drought or contamination of the primary water source.
Maryland American is seeking state approval to increase customer rates to help cover the cost of the impoundment.
“I appreciate that, Brendan, all the work you’ve done on that [research],” Burdette said.
Hopkins said he thinks he and Burdette have “complemented each other well,” and he praised her for being able to attend so many local functions, which he cannot always do as a father of young children.
He said he is “big on social media and getting feedback from citizens and reading into things.”
“I appreciate all of your support,” Hopkins told Burdette. “I appreciate the board’s faith in me as vice chair, and I look forward to the next year.”
The chair and vice chair are elected each year during the commissioners’ second meeting in November, according to Krantz. Commissioners who had been elected earlier in the month are sworn in then, too.
Commissioners’ terms are staggered, and elections are held in Bel Air during odd-numbered years.
“This is always the meeting of anniversaries,” Hopkins said.
He marked three years for him and Einhorn, five years for Commissioner Patrick Richards, seven for Burdette and one year for the newest member, Commissioner Amy Chmielewski.
“I’m happy to work with you guys — we don’t always agree, but that’s what makes us, I think, even better and more efficient,” Hopkins said.
“In the end, some of these discussions go all over the place, but we have the best interests of the citizens at heart and I couldn’t ask to work with a greater group of people, so thank you,” he added.