Harford County Executive David R. Craig, seeking to retain the job to which he was appointed last summer, will face a Republican challenger in the September primary.
Mark Fisher, an airplane engineer and farmer from Bel Air, filed to run this week and said he will campaign as a "kinder, gentler" alternative to Craig and Democratic candidate Ann C. Helton.
"I'd like to try to take the politics out of the job and have the county government be kinder, gentler government that works for the people," said Fisher, 49. "I think we could do more with what we have."
Craig, who lost in the 1998 Republican primary for county executive, is considered the frontrunner in a county where the GOP has held virtually every elected position in recent years. He was elected by the County Council in July last year to finish the term of James M. Harkins, who left to head the Maryland Environmental Service.
Fisher said he is aware of the odds - calling himself a "long shot" - and won't try to match Craig's fundraising. When he registered Monday, he declared that he wouldn't spend more than $1,000.
But he said it is important that voters have a choice in the primary and that the candidates talk about issues. Among Fisher's issues are increasing government efficiency to sustain or lower property taxes, minimizing the loss of tillable farmland, and saving money on school construction and putting the savings into better academic programs.
"The election should be competitive," he said. "It's the county executive's job to manage what people want done."