An election is under way in the Town of Bel Air, but it might be a quiet one.
With Commissioner David E. Carey choosing not to seek another four-year term, the two candidates who filed before the deadline are all but guaranteed the two open seats on the Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners, making the election just a formality.
Incumbent Commissioner Robert M. Preston has filed for another term as a Bel Air commissioner, but Carey said Monday he will not be running again this year.
"I'm not going to run again this election," Carey said. "I've been on the board 16 years. I've enjoyed it and feel like the town has accomplished a lot, but I think it is time to give somebody else a chance."
Carey, a 49-year-old attorney at Brown, Brown and Young, said the highlight of his tenure was working to develop Main Street into a thriving district of shops, restaurants, stores and businesses. He said when he first became commissioner, Main Street was only home to a few business offices and some insurance companies.
"When I first became commissioner everything on Main Street closed at 5 o'clock," Carey said. "I'm most proud of how we were able to breathe life back into Main Street and make it the center of our community."
Even with all the improvements to local parks and upgrades to the Hickory Avenue parking garage, Carey said there is one upgrade he wished happened, but never did.
"We anticipated at some point building a town hall on Main Street and letting the police department take over the building," Carey said. "The recession made that not feasible."
Carey said he would not be endorsing any of the candidates in the town commissioners race, but hopes his replacement is someone who is interested in the community and in putting Bel Air first.
"A good commissioner understands the small town charm of Bel Air and interested in the job of making the town of Bel Air better," Carey said.
Carey will be replaced by Patrick Richards, 45, a corporate real estate executive working in Baltimore at Laureate Education, formerly Sylvan Learning Center. Richards has been a member of the Town of Bel Air's planning commission for at least 10 years.
Richards ran an unsuccessful campaign for town commissioner in 2007 against six other candidates for three seats on the town board of commissioners.
"I think I will bring an extensive real estate and business background to the board," Richards said. "I bring a good working knowledge and experience to any real estate issues that the council might wrestle with."
Richards said he hopes to use his experience of working with operating budgets, financial planning and budget cycles to help Bel Air successfully plan its yearly budget finances.
"I'm sensitive to how any expenditures may impact local taxes and working to ensure a good quality of life for Bel Air residents," Richards said.
While he was unable to provide a schedule of events, Richards said he will be going door-to-door in the coming weeks to meet residents and business leaders in the community.
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As an incumbent, Preston said he is betting on his experience and track record to ensure voters grant him another term in office.
"I think I've got a bit of experience being on the board for 11 years," Preston said. "I know how the town runs and I think we've done an excellent job over the past years. I'd like to see those improvements continue."
The president of Preston's Stationery, the 64-year-old incumbent said the Town of Bel Air has "extremely talented" department heads, whom he has enjoyed working with to improve the area.
"It has been a pleasure working with the Town of Bel Air," Preston said. "We've had the best board over the past 12 years. We've been able to get things down and work well together. We're all kind of on the same plan."
Preston said one of the biggest highlights during his tenure has been the Bel Air High School auditorium.
"I don't think it would have been the facility that it is without the board," Preston said. "Bel Air and the students of Bel Air really benefited from that."
The town commissioner election is slated for Nov. 5. Residents can vote at Bel Air Town Hall between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.