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Havre de Grace voters elect Glenn, Tomarchio, Ringsaker; approve pay raises

Havre de Grace voters elect Dave Glenn, Casi Tomarchio and Jim Ringsaker and approve pay raises for council members in Tuesday’s election.

Havre de Grace voters re-elected incumbents David Glenn and Casi Tomarchio and elected newcomer Jim Ringsaker to the City Council Tuesday.

Voters also approved, by a slim margin, the ballot question granting raises to Mayor William T. Martin and the City Council. The measure passed with 784 "yes" votes to 767 "no" votes, according to unofficial election results.

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Seven candidates were seeking one of the three open seats on the Havre de Grace City Council in Tuesday's city election, a fairly big field for a non-mayor election year.

Glenn, the council president and longest-serving member of the six-person council, won a fourth term with 995 votes, the most for any candidate.

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Tomarchio, who was appointed to a council vacancy in November, won her first full two-year term with 938 votes. Jim Ringsaker came in third with 692 votes to win his first term on the council.

Carolyn J. Zinner came in fourth with 581 votes, followed by Annie McLhinney-Cochran with 541, then Kirk Smith with 337 and Nicholas A. DiPasquale, who had 138 votes, according to the totals.

Ringsaker will fill the seat of outgoing Councilman Michael Hitchings, who announced in March that he would not seek re-election. He was appointed to fill Martin's seat on the council when he was elected mayor in 2015, and then he was elected to a full term in 2016.

Ringsaker called Hitchings "my oldest friend in the world" and said "I couldn't be happier to follow him."

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"I'm running because of my children, and I want this place [Havre de Grace] to be a place they're proud to grow up in," Ringsaker said.

He is a father of two children; his son, Matthew, and daughter, Sydney, attend Meadowvale Elementary School, and Matthew will be among the first sixth-graders who enter the new Havre de Grace Middle/High School that is under construction and scheduled to open for the 2020-21 school year.

"I think our children in Havre de Grace deserve a state-of-the-art learning facility," Ringsaker said.

Glenn has been a leader in the community push for the county and state to fund a new school to replace the aging Havre de Grace Middle and High schools.

"I've always said, 'Let the voters make the decision on who serves,' and I'm just fortunate enough that they selected me," Glenn said.

On the ballot measure, Glenn said voters decide who gets elected and their terms, "they should also decide how much we make."

He said there were no hidden agendas among city leaders.

"If we had an agenda, we would have voted ourselves a raise," he said.

Glenn said upcoming issues on the council's agenda include the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health's ongoing effort to close Harford Memorial Hospital downtown and build a new freestanding health center on its property adjacent to Bulle Rock, as well as traffic safety projects and continuing to make the city a destination for tourists and new residents.

"[Let's] not get complacent and put the pedal to the metal, and the best is yet to come," he said.

Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin will have his salary more than doubled on July 1, if the city's voters approve raises he and the City Council are seeking.

Tomarchio said it was "an honor" to be asked to be on the council last fall, as she filled the seat of former Councilman Steve Gamatoria after he was hired as the mayor's chief of staff.

"It's a completely different feeling to know that the people from my community care about what I have done, and they believe in me and they want me to keep working for them," she said of being elected.

Tomarchio said, regarding the ballot measure, that she had asked voters to "think of it in terms of what you want to invest in for the position."

The question on this year's ballot – requiring a yes or no vote – would increase a council member's salary to $7,800 annually and the mayor's salary to $18,200, effective with the start of the next city fiscal year on July 1. Council members are currently paid $5,200 annually, the mayor $7,800 annually.

Tomarchio said paying $18,000 a year to the mayor "is completely reasonable," considering the city has a $16 million budget, 136 employees and a mayor expected to dedicate a significant portion of his time to the position.

"I think if we want to attract the best and brightest for our mayors moving from this point forward, we need to make it attractive," she said. "Everybody in that city hall has to be on point and ready to work for this city."

Martin said city leaders did not promote or advertise the ballot question, "we just put it in the voters' hands."

He noted Havre de Grace is the only jurisdiction in Maryland that puts raises for elected officials on the ballot. He said he thinks "it's pretty interesting" about the close vote margin.

"It says a lot about democracy and how people feel about their elected officials," he said. "Like I said, it's in the hands of the voters — I didn't know how it was going to go, there's no precedent."

Voters Murray and Margaret Lawder and Denise Wilkes chatted outside the church shortly before the polls closed. All three voted against the ballot question.

"It's just the way I felt," Murray Lawder, 71, said. "Heck, [city officials] used to work around here for nothing."

His wife, Margaret, 68, said she thinks people who run for office "should be able to share more of their time and not receive a high salary for being on the council."

Wilkes, 54, said she does not think local elected office should be a paid position.

The Havre de Grace City Council unanimously approved the redesignation and expansion of the Arts and Entertainment District during its regular city council meeting Monday.

"I think you should be volunteering and not [expecting] that that should be your income and your salary," she said.

Wilkes said she understands that not everybody in a community steps up to serve, but for those who do, "that's your choice to do it."

Voters cast 1,689 ballots as of Tuesday, including 71 absentee and four provisional ballots. Nine of the 71 requested absentee ballots had not been returned as of Election Day, so a canvass was scheduled for Thursday, and a second canvass will be held Wednesday, if needed, according to elections officials.

Voting was from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at St. Patrick Hall on Pennington Avenue.

With 10,679 registered active voters in Havre de Grace as of May 4, that means a 15.8 percent voter turnout.

Tuesday's winners will be sworn in on Monday, May 21, at City Hall.



Harford County’s “Choose Civility” campaign kicked off with a breakfast event at the Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp on Wednesday.
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