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Bel Air-area voters support Republican candidates, split on Sheriff's race

Outside Bel Air Elementary School Tuesday, Offie Clark, a volunteer for House of Delgates candidate Cassandra Beverley, talks with Nancy Cassilly, whose sons Joseph, Robert and Andrew are candidates for state's attorney, state senate and delgate, respectively.
Outside Bel Air Elementary School Tuesday, Offie Clark, a volunteer for House of Delgates candidate Cassandra Beverley, talks with Nancy Cassilly, whose sons Joseph, Robert and Andrew are candidates for state's attorney, state senate and delgate, respectively. (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Voting was slow, but steady in the Bel Air area early Tuesday, as voters started to make their voices heard on Election Day.

Most residents seemed uninterested in the local races and the overwhelming majority said they hoped to bring change to Maryland by, not surprisingly, choosing Republican Larry Hogan for governor. Republicans in Harford County, which votes strongly Republican, supported Hogan in the primary over Harford County Executive David Craig.

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On the local level, support for Jeff Gahler and Jesse Bane in the sheriff's race seemed roughly equal.

Voting at Bel Air Elementary School in the morning, Kelly May said she voted for Jeff Gahler for Harford County Sheriff because she went to school with him.

"I'm confident he can bring a change to Harford County as far as the Sheriff's Office is concerned," she said.

May said she usually votes Republican and hopes others support a change on the state level.

"I hope a lot of people come out, and I think a lot of people are ready for a change, so, fingers crossed," she said. "Hopefully we'll wake up tomorrow morning happy."

"I think the whole state needs a change from [Gov.] Martin O'Malley and [Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate Anthony] Brown," May said.

"It's been going downhill for way too long," she said of the administration, pointing out the "multiple taxes we've been subject to."

Election judges at Bel Air Elementary said turnout had been flowing smoothly and that 313 people had voted at the school by about 11 a.m.

"It's been steady," chief judge Amy Wagner said, adding one machine had issues and needed to be switched, but voting was not affected. "Things are moving along fine."

John Drexler, another Bel Air voter, said he went against his party affiliation in this election.

"I am a Democrat, but I voted Republican because I have had enough of tax hikes and so forth under the Democratic party," he said.

Drexler was hopeful about Hogan's odds of winning the race.

"I think he has got a good chance because, like me, I think there's a lot of Marylanders who are ready to move out if taxes keep going up," he said.

Stan May, of Bel Air, is likewise on the verge of leaving Maryland, as he said the Democratic administration has been bad for his business.

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"If it wasn't for my business being here in the state of Maryland, I would have already moved," he said, explaining that he voted his conscience and chose Hogan.

"I hope there's a change coming, not only in Harford County but also in the state," he said.

May, who isn't related to Kelly May, also said he voted for Gahler in the sheriff's race despite choosing Jesse Bane in the last two elections.

May explained he is concerned about his Second Amendment rights and felt Gahler would better support that.

"I don't think [Bane] is listening to people as much," he said.

"We have got a real crime problem in the Edgewood area that needs to be addressed and it hasn't been," he said.

May added he feels strongly about a proposed county charter amendment, on the ballot as a referendum item, that would make county deputy directors subject to executive appointment.

"I think that's a bad move," he said, adding he believes it creates more nepotism and he thinks the county needs some continuity.

May said this year's race should be "an interesting election" and said he feels a lot better about Hogan's chances than he did about former Gov. Robert Ehrlich's.

"We have run business off. It's sad," he said about the state administration.

May added he thought Barry Glassman was a shoo-in for county executive, but did not vote for him.

Melanie Garth, meanwhile, said she voted for Bane "because I think he is doing a great job."

In the governor's race, she did some soul-searching and ended up choosing Brown, primarily because he is pro-choice.

"I just couldn't decide, because I felt as if Martin O'Malley has taxed us a lot and I wanted a change, but the strong points that I have is, I am very pro-choice and I was very afraid of Hogan coming into office," she said.

"It was more important for me to have the right to choose, and for the other women in Maryland, so I voted for Brown," Garth said.

Despite her initial indecision, Garth felt strongly about the act of casting her ballot.

"It's very important for me to go out to vote, and a lot of women risked a lot to vote," she pointed out.

At William S. James Elementary School in Abingdon, Crystal Clark, a former county teacher, said she voted for Bob Frisch for the school board because he was recommended by the Maryland State Education Association.

She said she voted down the line for candidates endorsed by the group, which also meant Brown for governor.

Erica Miller, who voted at William S. James Elementary in Abingdon and is a media specialist at Homestead-Wakefield Elementary School, said she felt strongly about Jim Thornton for County Council president.

"I am looking for candidates who are going to support our education and our students," Miller said. "I think he has a good reputation for funding our schools."

Miller added she wants to see "teachers get their deserved pay increases that they have been waiting five years for, and would like to see fewer assessments on younger children."

"I am just hoping that a lot of teachers and parents will come out and vote and do what is best for their children," she said.

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