Tuesday, the County Council released the names of those who requested to be considered as candidates to replace departing County Executive James M. Harkins. These are letters of intent that the candidates were required to submit to the council, which will vote for a successor July 5.
Longtime resident, employee with county Health Department
Please accept this letter as my formal intent to apply for the position of County Executive of Harford County.
I am a 40-year resident of Harford County and a 30-year employee of the Harford County Health Department, a licensed Social Worker Associate with the State of Maryland. I obtained my Associate degree here in the county from Harford Community College and my Bachelor's of Science from Morgan State University in 1976.
Over my tenure with Harford County Health Department, I have both administered as well as orchestrated the delicate egos of a variety of professionals as well as being able to meet the needs of the chronically mentally ill in Harford County. My main strengths have been in the area of Social Services having been the initiator for several nonprofits that have serviced the medical needs of the mentally ill and the homeless.
Due to my varied job interests and duties, I have a vast knowledge of, and many working relationships with a large number of county agencies. I bring to this position a willingness not to micro-manage, but to rely on the experience of present department heads as well as the county's backbone, Mr. John O' Neil.
In closing, I hold no political aspirations having just retired from the Harford County Health Department. Though I am a registered Republican, I have no strong political affiliation.
Thank you in advance for accepting and considering this letter of intent.
Frederick H. Ritzel Street
Chief of Public Works Bureau of Construction Management
This letter is written to express my sincere interest in the position of County executive being vacated by the Hon. Mr. James M. Harkins on June 30, 2005.
I have, for the past seven years, held the position of Harford County Department of Public Works Bureau of Construction Management Chief, and feel that my professional business outlook and ability to amicably work to resolve problems with professionals, residents and employees of this county is only one of my strong points. I am retired with twenty-five years of employment from county government.
I worked as a lab manager and in the Department of Public Works Engineering Department, and worked five years in the private construction sector. I am honest and hard working, straight forward but easy to work with and a great problem solver, familiar with most of the issues facing Harford County and with current policies and procedures.
A detailed list of prominent references and resume are available upon request, and I would welcome the opportunity to meet or speak with you concerning my consideration for the Harford County Executive position.
Thomas Edward Norris II
Former Maryland state senator seeks county executive position
Please consider this as my letter of intent to you of my desire to be considered as a candidate in completing the remaining term of County Executive James M. Harkins, pursuant to the procedural guidelines adopted by the Harford County Council at its meeting on June 14, 2005. It is my understanding that only those people who meet the qualifications of the office of county executive and submit such a letter prior to 5 p.m. on June 20, 2005, will be considered. It is also my understanding that the County Council will make a decision at its regularly scheduled meeting on July 5, 2005.
David R. Craig Havre de Grace
Former Havre de Grace mayor, past County Council president
I would like to submit my name for consideration as interim Harford County Executive.
I emphasize the word interim because if appointed by the Council for the open position, I will not be a candidate for County Executive in 2006. My intention by doing so is to let the electoral process run its normal course, so that the candidates that vie for this position will all play on a level field and the county voters will be able, during the primaries and general election in 2006, to evaluate the candidates without being influenced by a sitting incumbent appointed by the Harford County Council.
My credentials are well known to you and I feel that I am fully capable to handle the assignment. Considering that I supported most all County Executive [James M.] Harkin's initiatives [and] am familiar with the staff, the transition will be practically seamless.
To summarize my experience, here are the highlights of my activities:
1998-2002 County Council President;
1989-1997 Mayor, Havre de Grace;
Always balanced budgets, surplus in general funds, no increased taxes;
1983-1989 Councilman, Havre de Grace;
1953 to present Medical Doctor, retired in 1987; Chief of Medical Staff of Hartford Memorial Hospital for 8 years and 6 years as chief of Emergency Room Physicians;
Active in rental and real estate business;
Active in the community for 50 years on Planning and Zoning, cultural events, all aspects of medicine.
My leadership, even for only a short duration, will work within a balanced budget, accomplishing continuation of school construction and supporting the educational programs, overseeing the orderly growth and development of Harford County. With my medical and business background, I will do my best to keep the cost of the county medical program affordable and first class.
Gunther D. Hirsch, M.D. Havre de Grace
Experience with transportation, telecommunications, budget
This is my formal letter of intent for the position of County Executive.
I would like to speak briefly of my qualifications. I served 12 years on the Harford County Council during the time that council members were responsible to all the people of Harford County. I have a good knowledge of the entire county with experience in Transportation at the state and federal levels. I have knowledge of the federal and state Telecommunications legislation, and how the county government has addressed these issues. I have had extensive training in the area of emergency services on a yearly basis.
I have been and continue to be an active lobbyist in Annapolis and Washington. Over the years, I have brought national award recognition to county employees, federal transportation money to our bridge program and savings through purchasing to the county system. I believed in the new telecommunications system for the county and computers in the police cars and have finally seen, in this year's budget, that issue coming to completion.
Health issues have always been a priority with me and keeping the citizens of Harford County with the most available care that can be arranged. I continue to have concerns about Mental Health in Harford County, and believe that the County has to put more into the teen diversion program to meet the increasing needs of our young people.
I believe the county is grossly overdue for the re-writing of the Zoning Code, and it should be done with public input and written In House, as before. I have extensive experience with the last re-write of the code done in 1980-1982 as well as comprehensive rezoning.
I have been active with the budget process from 1990 through this year, so have a good idea where the money is being spent. I would like to keep the present Executive's plan to give the next step increase for the teachers' pay per the study that he [has had] done.
I have concerns about the increasing costs of water and sewer and would like to take an in-depth look at this issue.
I believe in Harford County. I believe in the volunteer system that we have and use so well. I think I could do a good job as the County Executive for the next 17 months and would be supported by the people of Harford County.
Susan B. Heselton Joppa
Served during Harkins' 1st term working with the community
I respectfully write to ask that the members of the County Council include my name for consideration for appointment to fill the remainder of County Executive [James M.] Harkins' term, beginning on July 6, 2005. It would be my great honor to serve Harford County in this capacity.
I possess the requisite experience, skills, education and ethical standards to carry out this duty with effectiveness, collegiality, decorum and rigorous impartiality. I have always worked in a bipartisan fashion and would continue to do that if appointed as interim County Executive. That noted, let me state categorically that I will not seek election to that office at the conclusion of the term. My primary interest in seeking to fill the remainder of the term is to serve the citizens of Harford County. I believe this is done among other things, by affording them the opportunity that is rightfully theirs: to educate themselves about future candidates for that office and elect a county executive on that basis, rather than by having the choice made for them.
As many of the members of the council know, I have a long history of public service and a strong commitment to education and community service. I served in the first Harkins administrations as director of government and community relations - a position for which I, a registered Democrat, was sought out by Mr. Harkins. In my capacity as one of his most trusted advisers, I worked closely with the County Council on hundreds of pieces of legislation, including several budget bills, legislation that greatly expanded the economic opportunities for Harford farmers, a bill to encourage the redevelopment of Edgewood and the Route 40 corridor, legislation governing cellular communication towers, and a successful effort to increase the offered price per acre for purchase of development rights, just to name a few. I was also the administration's liaison to Annapolis and to the federal delegation in Washington, working with all the elected officials and their staffs on myriad issues of interest to Harford County, including on securing state funding for Ripken Stadium, and heightening awareness of and increasing funding to Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Some other factors that I would ask the council to consider as it weighs who best can serve out the remainder of Mr. Harkins' terms are my:
- Extensive familiarity with the range of issues and challenges facing Harford County, including economic development, growth, education, safety, employment and quality-of-life issues.
- Detailed knowledge of all aspects and departments of county government and my strong working relationships with most department heads, local elected officials and personnel.
- Understanding of key planning and zoning issues, including the upcoming Comprehensive Rezoning process.
- Thorough understanding of the legislative and budget processes.
- Cordial relationships with many business and community leaders in the county.
- Working relationships with several of the other "Big Seven" county executives, the mayor of Baltimore, and Maryland's two U.S. senators.
- Strong ties with the agricultural sector.
- Excellent written and verbal skills.
- Service on the Harford County Public Library Board of Trustees, library system Foundation Board, and past membership on the Sexual Assault Resource Center and Faith Communities and Civil Agencies United boards.
- Reputation for honesty and integrity.
I would be pleased to meet with any and all council members to discuss whatever questions they may have.
Thank you in advance for your consideration. I would welcome the opportunity to once again serve the citizens of our extraordinary county.
Lucie L. Snodgrass Street