Two candidates with life-long ties to Harford County are seeking the opportunity in this year’s election to lead its government for the next four years, with one campaigning for a return to the post and the other looking for a first shot at it.
Republican Barry Glassman, who grew up in Level and lives in Darlington, is the incumbent county executive elected to his first term in 2014. He faces a challenge from Democrat Maryann Forgan, who grew up on Ensor Drive in Joppatowne and now lives on Rumsey Island, also in Joppatowne.
The winner of Tuesday’s general election will be the head of a county administration with 1,100 full- and part-time employees and a nearly $900 million combined capital and operating budget supporting general government operations, along with organizations such as the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Harford County Public Schools, the library system, the Circuit Court and State’s Attorney’s Office, an EMS system and Harford’s 12 privately-operated volunteer fire and EMS companies.
Forgan, 54, grew up in the first section of the Joppatowne planned community built in the early 1960s. She is a 1981 graduate of Joppatowne High School.
Forgan is married with a daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. She works as a home improvement contractor and is involved with community groups such as Joppa Development and Heritage Corporation and the Joppatowne Lions Club. She is a member of the Joppatowne Recreation Council board, and she is the founder and president of the Joppatowne Arts Festival.
About 3,000 people attended the second annual arts festival in early October, Forgan said.
She is making her first run for elected office. Forgan lamented the departure of retail stores and recreation and entertainment centers, such as roller rinks, that had been around when she was growing up.
She said she wants to see greater investment in the Route 40 corridor and in Joppa, with projects such as a recreation center.
“When you’re from here [Joppa] and you go there [Bel Air] and you say, ‘Wow, this is what real people get,’ and we just sit down here and take it,” she said. “Unless people vote for change, the whole Route 40 corridor is going to stay the same.”
Forgan said she wants to create more opportunities for students attending schools in the Route 40 corridor, such as magnet programs in schools in Bel Air and Fallston, plus increase local funding for the schools so more counselors can be hired, safety programs can be improved and school officials can better deal with bullying.
“Just treat everybody equally; that’s how I was raised,” she said. “That’s what my parents taught me — we’re all equal no matter what.”
She also wants to provide more support services for people addicted to opioids, ensure green space is preserved as property is developed and bring greater diversity to the county leadership, which includes an all-male, all-Republican county executive and County Council.
“I truly believe that if we get enough Democrats in office up here in Harford County, we could make a change and everybody would be happy about it,” Forgan said.
She said she is the best person to be county executive because “I’m not a politician and I’m honest — I have integrity.”
“It’s an exciting year, and we just need everybody to get out and vote and know that their vote is counted,” Forgan said.
Glassman, 56, is married with one son — his son, Jordan, was elected to the Republican Central Committee of Harford County in June.
Barry Glassman has held elected office for nearly 30 years. He was elected to the Harford County Council in 1990 and served until 1998, when he was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates.
Glassman spent nine years in the House and was appointed to the Senate seat of the late Sen. J. Robert Hooper after Sen. Hooper resigned in 2007.
Glassman was elected to his first full term in the Senate in 2010 and then ran for — and won — county executive in 2014. The executive is limited by charter to two four-year terms.
Glassman worked for BGE for 22 years while on the council and in the General Assembly. He was a claims investigator when he retired four years ago to become county executive, his full-time job.
“We’re close to a billion-dollar enterprise right now,” he said of being county executive. “It is not a job that you would turn over without any experience in working in a legislature or running an organization that size; it’s just not a good starting position.”
He said it took about a year to get used to the complexity of county departments and dealing with a budget as large as the county’s.
Glassman said he is involved with multiple community organizations and participates in events such as 5K races.
“I make it a point to be involved in all those things, to make sure I’m connected with all the different pieces of the county,” he said.
Glassman listed multiple accomplishments from his first term, such as paying down debt, restoring the budget fund balance, pay increases for HCPS teachers, Sheriff’s Office deputies and county employees, completing the 2016 HarfordNEXT master land-use plan, continued preservation of agricultural land, the recent launch of the Advanced Manufacturing, Materials and Processes, or AMMP, hub in Aberdeen and partnering with local health agencies and healthcare providers to open a 24-hour crisis center and establish a crisis hotline for people with mental health and addiction issues.
The crisis center in Bel Air is slated to be in full operation next spring; people can call the 24/7 hotline, 800-NEXT-STEP, or 800-639-8783.
Glassman also noted initiatives to spur economic development along Route 40, such as enterprise zones, the Bel Air Auto Auction’s relocation to Riverside between I-95 and Route 40 and the 2017 Edgewood Small Area Study on revitalizing that community.
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“It’s kind of a misnomer to say that one part of the county receives more than the other,” he said.