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Election Day turnout mixed in Harford, as candidates make final appeals to voters

Voters head in to Forest Lakes Elementary School to cast their ballot during Tuesday's general election.
Voters head in to Forest Lakes Elementary School to cast their ballot during Tuesday's general election. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

General Election Day dawned sunny and unseasonably warm Tuesday, as the majority of the 164,000-plus registered voters in Harford County had a final opportunity to be heard on the selection of a county executive, county council and sheriff, among local and state offices.

Many Harford voters, however, were also focused on the race for governor between Republican Larry Hogan and Democrat Anthony Brown.

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Though some clouds had moved into the Bel Air by early afternoon, temperatures were in the high 60s and poll workers and candidates were observed out in force outside the county's 65 voting locations, many of which reported lines of voters shortly after the 7 a.m. opening, with activity tapering off as the morning went on into afternoon.

Early turnout numbers differed from polling place to polling place.

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Shortly after 10 a.m., 162 people had voted at William S. James Elementary in Abingdon, where elections chief judge John Lohmeyer said overall activity had been slow.

"There's not any long lines," Lohmeyer said, adding there was "that initial little burst in the morning."

At Level Fire Hall, one of the county's biggest precincts, more than 600 people had voted by noon and more were coming in.

"It's been wonderful," Gina Norton, a chief judge at Level said, "We've had a great turnout."

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Around 2:30 p.m. Harford Elections Director Kevin Keene said voter turnout around the county had been moderate for the first half of the day.

"Things have been smooth," Keene said. "It's pretty steady."

Also being contested locally were three Maryland State Senate Seats and eight House of Delegates seats representing the county in the Maryland General Assembly, the majority of which are open this election because incumbents either retired or ran for something else.

And, for the first time, Harford voters also were selecting six of nine members of the county board of education.

Republican Barry Glassman, a heavy favorite to succeed David Craig, as county executive, campaigned throughout the county Tuesday, even though his opponent, Democrat Joseph Werner, was given little chance of winning.

Glassman, who said he voted during early last week, wasn't leaving anything to chance.

After checking in at the Bel Air Reckord Armory where his election night celebration was planned, Glassman made the rounds of polling places, bringing refreshments to his campaign workers and stopping to chat with voters and other candidates.

"You still have to show up and let people know you were there," he said during a late morning stop at Churchville Recreation Center.

The two most closely watched local races have been for sheriff and county council president, both thought to be close compared to others.

Incumbent two-term Sheriff Jesse Bane, a Democrat, was opposed by retired state trooper and Republican Jeff Gahler, whom Bane defeated in 2010. Bane is Harford's only countywide Democratic officeholder.

In the council president's race, Republican Richard Slutzky, a veteran council member, and Democrat Jim Thornton, a school board member, were running aggressive campaigns to replace Billy Boniface, who decided not to run for a third term.

In the six district council races, the names of incumbents Joe Woods and Chad Shrodes, Republicans represented in the Fallston-Abingdon and north county areas, respectively, appeared on Tuesday's ballot without opposition.

Two of the four other council seats were open, while incumbents were favored in the other two contests. Democrat Barbara Kreamer, a onetime council member, and Republican Patrick Vincenti were running for Slutzky's council seat in the Aberdeen and Churchville areas. Republican Curtis Beulah and Democrat Joseph Smith were battling to succeed Mary Ann Lisanti representing the Havre de Grace area, with Lisanti running for a House of Delegates seat in southern Harford.

Three-term incumbent Councilman Dion Guthrie, a Democrat, was opposed by Republican Mike Perrone Jr. in the heavily Democratic Joppatowne and Edgewood council district. Two-term incumbent Councilman Jim McMahan, a Republican, was opposed by Democrat Gina Kazimir in the Bel Air council district.

In two other countywide races of note, incumbent State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly, a Republican, was favored to win a ninth term in his contest with Democrat Steven Trostle. Circuit Court Judge Yolanda Curtin was unopposed for a full 15-year term on the bench.

Voting Tuesday morning at Bel Air Elementary School, Bel Air resident T. L. Sullivan said he knew many of the candidates who were running, having lived in the area since 1950.

He said he voted for three of his friends, Bane for Sheriff, and two Republicans, State Senate candidate Bob Cassilly and incumbent Del. Susan McComas.

As for the governor's race, Sullivan said he chose Hogan as "the lesser of two evils."

Justin Cullum, of Aberdeen, walked out of the polling place at Aberdeen High School with his 6-year-old son, Camden, late Tuesday morning, both sporting "I Voted" stickers.

The elder Cullum noted an individual voters might avoid the polls since they think their one vote does not make a difference.

"If a lot of people think that same way, then that makes a big difference, so I would hope that if people want to have a voice and do something different, come and vote," he said, stressing he's not a student of politics.

"I just like to lead the way for this little man the best I can," he said, looking at his son.

Aegis staff member Matt Button contributed to this article

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