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McComas, Beverley spar in race for Bel Air area delegate seat

Bel Air area Del. Susan McComas, left, presents a House of Delegates proclamation to Bel Air town officials last month marking the 50th anniversary of Town Hall. The former Bel Air mayor is campaigning for a fourth House term, opposed by Harford School Board member Cassandra Beverley.
Bel Air area Del. Susan McComas, left, presents a House of Delegates proclamation to Bel Air town officials last month marking the 50th anniversary of Town Hall. The former Bel Air mayor is campaigning for a fourth House term, opposed by Harford School Board member Cassandra Beverley. (MATT BUTTON AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Who will be the last woman standing in the District 34B race, representing Harford County in the House of Delegates?

Two candidates, both lawyers who have won past elections, are competing for the single House seat to represent an area that runs from the Town of Bel Air to roughly I-95, bordered by Fountain Green Road and the Route 24/Abingdon areas.

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Democrat Cassandra Beverley, an Abingdon resident who has served on the county's Board of Education since 2010, when she was among the first group of elected board members, is trying to unseat incumbent Republican Del. Susan McComas, who has served in Annapolis since 2003 and was a Bel Air mayor and town commissioner before her election to the House.

In interviews, both candidates took some shots at each other, with Beverley accusing McComas of not bringing back Harford's fair share from Annapolis and McComas claiming Beverley's signs have been placed illegally.

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"I am really focused on bringing some fresh ideas to Harford County," Beverley, 56, said. "I just don't believe Harford County has gotten the best that we could out of our delegate."

"I believe there is more that Harford County should be getting in terms of its fair share," she continued. "I believe I would be seen as a partner working on behalf of the county as opposed to an adversary."

McComas, 63, rebuffed the idea that the county delegation, dominated for years by Republicans, has not been successful, calling it "the tired mantra of the Democrat candidates all over the state in an attempt to distract voters from looking at their failed policies and the taxes and fees they have raised in the last eight years."

McComas said most tax dollars need to be kept in Harford County for local services and businesses, not in Annapolis to get raided by the Democratic majority.

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"The entire delegation actively supported bringing the opportunity for a four-year college education to Harford Community College," she added in an email. "We also all supported the manufacturing jobs bill that moves the Aberdeen Proving Ground technology to the private sector."

Beverley said her solo law practice in Bel Air has continued growing because of her ability to communicate with people.

Active in the local Democratic Party and a past national party convention delegate, Beverley also said it is important to work together with people, and "I don't believe you always have to be a hammer."

"One of the things I bring to the table is, I have a background on working with many people from all walks of life," she said. "There has been such an adversarial relationship between the members of the [current Harford] delegation."

"Harford County has been kind of left out in the cold because of that," she continued. "I don't think I would be perceived as an adversary."

Beverley said she would continue her focus on education, if elected to the House, as the main things that attract people to a place is the quality of the local school system and public safety.

Part of the safety issue is the state highway system, which Beverley said has been inadequately upgraded in Harford.

"We are getting a pittance compared to other jurisdictions," she said in reference to funding for county infrastructure.

McComas said she secured redevelopment of Bel Air's Main Street and road improvements by Ring Factory and Fallston schools and worked to get a traffic study done for a proposed Walmart at Route 924 in Bel Air South, which has been delayed in part because of the State Highway Administration's subsequent denial of an access to the site from 924.

She said she fought 40 taxes and fees of Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration, including tax increases that "my opponent has vocally supported."

McComas said she was surprised that Beverley was "recently placing so many of her signs illegally on state highway right of way." Beverley responded that she thought the rules changed within 30 days of the election and she would look into it.

"I certainly want to be in compliance," Beverley said, calling McComas' accusation "nit-picky."

McComas also called Beverley's candidacy "funded by out-of-county and statewide sources," as well as by the "failed [District 34] senate candidate Art Helton."

Beverley said she is definitely getting financial help from whomever she can, including Helton, as she is not independently wealthy.

McComas said her strategy in Annapolis has been keeping Harford money from going to the state.

"I will say again that it is not about getting money back from Annapolis, it is about keeping it from going there," she said.

She added she will keep working to change school funding formulas to better reflect the contributions those counties make to state revenues and will fight initiatives to raise school construction costs by forcing counties to pay higher wages.

She said she will also work to make the Transportation Trust Fund a dedicated fund for transportation needs, as well as for accountability of nursing homes and better Alzheimer's disease research.

"My campaign is going very well," McComas said. "Doing your job and providing excellent constituent service trumps campaign promises."

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