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Voters in Harford County Council District C would do well to give Councilman Jim McMahan, shown in the foreground, a new term. Other Aegis picks for county council in contest races are: District A - Councilman Dion Guthrie; District E - Patrick Vincenti; District F - Curtis Beulah.
Voters in Harford County Council District C would do well to give Councilman Jim McMahan, shown in the foreground, a new term. Other Aegis picks for county council in contest races are: District A - Councilman Dion Guthrie; District E - Patrick Vincenti; District F - Curtis Beulah. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Though the Harford County Council has had some high-profile issues come before it over the past four years, this election year has been one of relatively little contention as the incumbents seeking re-election have not been vigorously challenged.

Indeed, two councilmen, Joe Woods in the Fallston-dominated District B, and Chad Shrodes in the northern Harford District D, are unopposed in the general election and Woods faced no opposition in primary. Both are Republicans.

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Even in the two districts where seats have been left open as those holding them seek other offices — the Abingdon-Havre de Grace District F and the Aberdeen-Churchville District E — while the races are contested, there is a fair amount of agreement among the candidates seeking office.

District A

In Edgewood-Joppatowne District A, 12-year incumbent Dion Guthrie, a Democrat, who is a retired union representative, is challenged by Mike Perrone Jr., a Republican who is active in the local Tea Party-affiliated Campaign for Liberty organization and works in financial analysis.

Perrone highlights his finance and accounting credentials as distinguishing him from Guthrie, and he also understands the administrative reality that if the county gives the school system money with one thing in mind, "what they do with it is their discretion."

Despite their disparate political leanings, both Guthrie and Perrone agree on increased funding for the school system — though they differ on the details — as well as the locally high profile issue of the future of the former Mariner Point Swim Club. Both say they would like to see the property come into county government possession, even as the prospects for such an outcome have faded.

Given the practical similarities — though there are certainly some important philosophical differences between the two — Guthrie with his three terms of experience is the better choice. The Aegis recommends voters in District A cast their ballots for Guthrie.

District C

In the greater Bel Air area District C, two-term incumbent Republican James "Capt'n Jim" McMahan, a retired radio station owner and morning show host, is being challenged by Democrat Gina Kazimir, who has worked in public relations and owns her own communications business.

While McMahan has his weaknesses — notably like many elected officials, he is generally against "over-development" when there are high-profile cases, but he has been less vigilant when it has come time to vote on development policy issues — he also offers a rounded approach. McMahan has shown an understanding of a range of county government issues, and also has strength when it comes to individual constituent services.

Kazimir has come across singularly focused on McMahan's support of a failed effort to increase salaries for members of the county council, even as teachers and county employees received no such raises. She raises a valid point. McMahan's support of council raises is another of his weaknesses, but Kazimir's recognition of this does not constitute a meaningful approach to civic issues.

The Aegis recommends voters in District C cast ballots for McMahan.

District E

The seat representing Aberdeen-Churchville District E has been vacated by Dick Slutzky, who is running countywide for the post of Council President. Seeking to replace him are Democrat Barbara O. Kreamer, who served on the County Council from 1978 to 1982 and in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1983 to 1991, and Republican Patrick Vincenti, a relative newcomer to the local political scene, who owns a duck decoy business and has been active with the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum.

Kreamer offers the perspective of having served in elected office, but that experience is more than two decades in the past.

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Vincenti, meanwhile, is rather pragmatic insofar as he favors considering raises for teachers and county employees, something he and Kreamer agree on.

In addition, however, Vincenti has expressed an understanding of the importance of land use planning in advance as the preferred way to avoid conflicts over proposed development before they arise. He says he believes the busy Route 22 corridor from Churchville to Aberdeen is in need of a review. While the idea makes a lot of sense, it's one that hasn't been high on the public agenda at the county level, and such a perspective is needed in county government.

The Aegis recommends voters in District E vote for Vincenti.

District F

In Abingdon-Havre de Grace District F, incumbent Democrat Mary Ann Lisanti is running for a Maryland House of Delegates seat. Running to replace her are two businessmen, Democrat Joe Smith, owner of an art and design studio in Havre de Grace and a former member of the Havre de Grace City Council, and Republican Curtis Beulah, a self-employed wealth manager with the Diamond Financial Group, who retired after 27 years of military service.

Both express middle-of-the-road political leanings and, in general, have similar positions favoring support for schools, public safety and business.

There's reason for pause, however, when Smith advocates supporting tax credits as a way to boost new home construction. Residential construction unaccompanied by commercial or industrial growth is a long-term burden on the tax structure for the simple reason that a house that is home to two school age children consumes more in county public services than it generates in tax revenue. This structure has been in place for generations across Maryland, and, so long as commercial development keeps pace, a balance is generally struck. To offer incentives that promote residential growth, however, are likely to result in a need for more services, even as the ability to pay for such services is decreasing.

In addition, Beulah would bring to county government something that has been conspicuously absent in recent decades considering the prominent role of Aberdeen Proving Ground in the community: the perspective of someone who has spent a career in the armed forces.

The Aegis recommends voters in District F cast their ballots for Beulah.

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