It may have felt like deja vu — the oath, the ceremony, the applause. Yet Monday’s inauguration ceremony represents something different for Harford County Executive Barry Glassman compared to the one he had four years ago.
The second term for any office holder carries with it greater expectations, if for no other reason than you’ve been on the job and, hopefully, have learned a few things.
That’s certainly true for Glassman, whose first term included navigation of county tragedies — the death of two sheriff’s deputies and a pair of horrific workplace shootings — as well as budget woes, policy challenges and pressures that come from growth in a jurisdiction seen as a good place to work and raise a family.
While we might take issue with a decision here or there, Glassman has largely engendered confidence in the way he’s handled those issues and others. He’s been fiscally responsible and stressed public safety and education — the foundations of local government.
That’s not to say there aren’t challenges ahead; issues that require immediate attention and long-term planning.
Glassman himself alluded to some of those in his speech Monday, specifically noting the continued scourge of opioid addiction. Harford County has seen its share of this epidemic, and by and large has been forward-thinking on issues of treatment, intervention and awareness.
Still, there’s no abatement on the horizon for the crisis overall. More will need to be done — more resources, more outreach and more options for families determined to help their loved ones survive. The county executive can and should be a leader in this regard, not only in his home county, but throughout the region. On this front, we’re encouraged that the county’s 24/7 crisis center — considered the first of its kind in Maryland providing behavioral, mental and addiction health services — will be coming online in the spring.
Growth is always an issue with residents, and another challenge Glassman will continue to face is the need to maintain a balance between allowing a reasonable pace of development and at the same time checking against the pressures on schools, roads, water and sewer and other infrastructure. Guidance from the county, and partnerships with municipalities, will be critical in this regard.
Employment is another area he’ll be expected to focus on. The area is drawing attention from major employers, but the county must also continue to work with the community college on job training and access to technology.
Glassman must also take a leadership role in celebrating Harford’s growing diversity. It was good that he included an array of religious leaders in Monday’s ceremonies, and his comments envisioning Harford as a “growing metropolitan county” with a need to be “open to other cultures, other religions” were appreciated.
Glassman focused much of his comments Monday on the need for cooperation, bipartisanship and compassion — as government leaders and as citizens. He’ll need those qualities in his second term. He be called upon to work with leaders around him who are new — including a new Democratic county executive in neighboring Baltimore County, and other regional partners that swung Democrat in the election in Anne Arundel and Howard counties.
Glassman is scheduled to become president of the Maryland Association of Counties next year, a position that will not only give him an opportunity to forge strong relationships elsewhere, but could raise his profile as a statewide leader.
As the returning executive, he’ll be expected to hit the ground running, especially with the General Assembly session beginning in about a month and county’s budget cycle also on the horizon. This past week the new County Council was told Glassman will retain department heads in the new term. That will help consistency and familiarity with issues.
Glassman may not have seen it all during his first term, but he saw quite a bit.
So have his constituents. They saw enough to give him great responsibility and trust once again. He has another 48 months to show what he can do with them.