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An all-Gop, all-male Harford Council is set to take office Dec. 1

Newly elected Harford County Council member Curtis Beulah waves to voters along Route 155 in Havre de Grace Monday.
Newly elected Harford County Council member Curtis Beulah waves to voters along Route 155 in Havre de Grace Monday. (Courtesy of Curtis Beulah, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

With three new members joining Dec. 1, plus a new president also coming on board, the rate of turnover on the Harford County Council still won't be that much different from prior post-election changes.

In addition to new leadership, however, there will be two other key differences between the incoming council and the outgoing one: it will be all-Republican and all-male.

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Harford's council tends to experience its greatest rate of turnover in a year when a new county executive is elected. For instance, four new members joined the council in 2006, when David Craig won his first of two full terms as county executive. All seven council members returned in 2010, as Craig won his second term.

Barry Glassman was elected to succeed Craig on Nov. 4. Two of the council's new members are filling open seats of incumbents who did not seek re-election; the third defeated an incumbent.

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Incoming members Mike Perrone Jr., District A; Patrick Vincenti, District E; and Curtis Beulah, District F, have never held elected office and had never run for one before this year, but that's not unusual. Among the council members they are joining or replacing, only one held elected office prior to winning his or her first council terms.

Perrone narrowly defeated three-term incumbent Dion Guthrie. Vincenti and Beulah were elected to the open seats being vacated by Richard Slutzky, who was elected council president to replace Billy Boniface, who did not seek re-election, and Mary Ann Lisanti, who ran successfully for the House of Delegates in District 34A.

Those leaving the council will take plenty of experience with them, a combined 28 years among Guthrie, Boniface and Lisanti. Boniface, who served eight years, was only the second council president to serve successive full terms, joining the late John Hardwicke, who served from 1978 to 1989.

The three newcomers, all Republicans, will join re-elected district council members Joe Woods, District B; Jim McMahan, District C; and Chad Shrodes, District D.

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Like the newcomers, the three holdovers and Slutzky are Republicans, meaning the new council will be only the second in 42 years with all seven seats held by Republicans. The other was the 1994-98 council.

Slutzky said last week he believes the GOP sweep of the council and in other county offices could be "helpful" moving forward.

"That seems to be a reflection of the state and the country," he said of Harford's election results.

The new council also will be the first since 1974-78 without a female member.

The latter point isn't lost on Lisanti, who is leaving for Annapolis after eight years on the council.

"I found some irony in that you mentioned before the election there would be no farmers on the council [for the first time since the council began] but didn't say anything about having no women," she remarked to a reporter, saying she hopes she won't be the last because, "women think differently, they really do, and they need to have a voice and to be heard."

Following the adoption of the county's home rule charter in 1972, the first two county councils had seven male members. The first two women council members were elected in 1978. One, Barbara Kreamer, who served four years and then moved on to the House of Delegates, made a bid to return to the council this year, but was defeated in the District E race by Vincenti.

Between 1998 and 2010, the council had at least two women members and as many as three (1990-94, 1994-98, 1998-2002). The 2006-10 council, which included Lisanti and Veronica Chenowith, was reduced to a single woman member when Mrs. Chenowith died in 2009 and was replaced by Woods.

Beulah said Saturday he is still getting used to his win, which he believed would happen, although perhaps by not as big a margin as it was over Democrat Joe Smith, a former Havre de Grace city councilman. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by almost 2,300 in District E, but independents also make up more than 20 percent of the district's 28,500 voters. Beulah won by more than 2,600 votes.

"I want to give thanks to God and all my prayer warriors at Oak Grove Baptist Church," he said following the election.

The Democratic edge was even more pronounced in District A, almost two-to-one, where Perrone unseated Guthrie, who blamed his loss on a poor turnout in the Route 40 area, particularly in the Edgewood portion of the district.

Following the final absentee ballot canvass Wednesday, Perrone's lead is 236 votes with a few provisional ballots to be counted Thursday that aren't expected to affect the order of finish.

Though she was the only Democrat elected to any office in Harford County last week, Lisanti said she wasn't reading too much into that part of the equation, as she readies for the next step of her political career.

"What I can say is, during my own campaign, being out on the road, talking to voters, I heard a very clear message," she said. "People want elected officials to work together. They want them to not be so rigid in their ideology that they cannot be open to other people's opinions."

Aegis staff member Bryna Zumer contributed to this article.

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