The two candidates for the county council District A seat on the Harford County Board of Education did not face any opposition in the June primary, so their general election campaigns have started with clean slate, so to speak.
Jansen Robinson, 59, of Edgewood, and Fred Mullis, 74, of Joppatowne, are running to represent those two communities on the board in the non-partisan election.
"I believe that the Board of Education is one of the most important offices that voters will have to choose for this year," Robinson said.
He noted the members of the school board handle about half a billion dollars each year in taxpayer funds for their budget, set working conditions for about 5,000 employees and are responsible for "educating 38,000 of our most precious assets," referring to Harford County Public Schools' nearly 38,000 students.
Mullis' son and daughter are graduates of Harford County Public Schools and his grandchildren attend local schools.
"Its time that somebody stepped up to the plate and said, 'The kids are the most important part of Harford County's education,'" Mullis said. "We need to put somebody on the board that stands up for the kids and the people of Harford County."
Robinson said his experience serving the community as chairman of the Edgewood Community Council and as a substitute teacher and school administrator are among his qualifications. He also cited his experience working with county and state elected officials.
Robinson is an anti-terrorism officer and security specialist, a civilian Department of Defense position, at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
He has also worked as a senior administrator in the Baltimore City and Washington, D.C., school systems and as an administrator at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. He also worked as a youth counselor with the state's Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, which is under the Department of Juvenile Services.
"I have an education background, from the classroom to administrator to post-secondary," he said.
He has been chairman of the Edgewood Community Council for eight years, and he has served on the Harford County Human Relations Commission. He ran for the District A school board seat in 2010, losing in the general election to Robert Frisch. Because of redistricting since the last election, Frisch's home is now in District B and he is running for that seat.
If elected, Robinson said he will work "so that Edgewood won't be one of those communities that people shy away from because of schools; I want to do whatever I can to take that away as a reason for not moving to Edgewood."
Mullis said his experience in business would be an important asset to the board. He owns BVP Inc., a company specializing in medical testing for insurance purposes, and Superior Drug Testing, which does DNA and drug testing. Both firms are headquartered in Baltimore County and employees work throughout the state, he said.
"My background is in business and to be on the school board, you have to understand that the school system is one of the largest businesses in Harford County," he said, explaining that the school system needs to be treated like a business.
"Instead of asking for more money, find out how to use what money we have in a more advantageous way," he said.