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Denouncing national divisions, extremism, 'fake news,' Harford council president gives a farewell address

Harford County Board of Education member Nancy Reynolds, left, chats with County Council President Richard Slutzky after Slutzky delivered the council president's annual address Tuesday evening in the council chambers in Bel Air.
Harford County Board of Education member Nancy Reynolds, left, chats with County Council President Richard Slutzky after Slutzky delivered the council president's annual address Tuesday evening in the council chambers in Bel Air. (MATT BUTTON/THE AEGIS / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Harford County Council President Richard Slutzky gave his final council president’s address Tuesday in which he expressed his concerns about divisions among Americans, the rise of extremism on the far left and right of the political spectrum and the rise of “fake news” in the national media.

Slutzky, a student of American Indian history, delivered a Lakota Sioux saying, both in the native language and in English — “some people listen with one ear and speak with two tongues.”

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“We will not come together as a nation until we listen better and speak softly with respect,” Slutzky said. “Unless we all start to work together for the common good, there won’t be any.”

The council president’s address, often used to lay out a legislative agenda for the coming year – though not in Slutzky’s case, is traditionally given following the county executive’s State of the County Address, which was delivered in the council chambers by Harford County Executive Barry Glassman.

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Harford County will join the growing list of Maryland Counties in suing opioid manufactures, distributors and local subscribers for their alleged roles in spurring an abuse crisis that has reached epidemic proportions, County Executive Barry Glassman said Tuesday.

Slutzky, an Abeerdeen resident who has served on the council since 2002, will not seek a second term as council president — he was elected to that office in 2014. He is a former teacher and athletic coach at Aberdeen High School, where he mentored a number of state champion wrestlers.

He praised his colleagues on the council and listed the attributes each member — Mike Perrone, Joe Woods, Jim McMahan, Chad Shrodes, Patrick Vincenti and Curtis Beulah — brings to the dais.

“It’s been a pleasure for me to work with the present council,” he said.

“President Slutzky, our coach, will be missed, yet we know that others will come along to fill that void,” McMahan, the council vice president who introduced Slutzky, said. “My hope is that they will not forget him but will seek his counsel as a private citizen because he still has great wisdom to share.”

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