Two first-time candidates vie for District C seat on Harford Council

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Two candidates making their first run for elected office — Republican Tony “G” Giangiordano and Democrat Karen Kukurin — are vying for the District C seat on the Harford County Council.

Three-term Councilman James McMahan holds the District C seat, representing greater Bel Air and parts of Forest Hill. He ran for the Maryland House of Delegates in the primary election earlier this year, coming in third out of four candidates in the Republican race for District 34B.

Incumbent Del. Susan McComas clinched the GOP nomination for that seat in June, and she will face Democrat Jeff Dinger in the November general election.

McMahan did for re-election to his County Council seat.

The statewide general election, for all candidates running in this year’s midterm election, is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Early voting runs from Thursday, Oct. 25 to Thursday, Nov. 1; the deadline to register to vote in the general is 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, according to the calendar on the Maryland State Board of Elections website.

Tony ‘G’ Giangiordano

Giangiordano, 56, of Bel Air, won a three-way Republican primary in June with nearly 48 percent of the vote. He defeated Susan Burdette, who earned 28.6 percent, and Patti Parker, who captured 23.3 percent, according to Harford County Board of Elections statistics.

Burdette is the mayor of the Town of Bel Air, and Parker is board president for Visit Harford!, the nonprofit, quasi-governmental organization established under Harford County Executive Barry Glassman to promote local tourism.

“I feel honored that I was able to win the primary election,” Giangiordano said in a recent interview. “I think there were two other good candidates that had a lot of experience, that have done a lot for the county, so I’m just happy that I was able to secure the nomination.”

He is the owner of AAG Insurance in Bel Air, which was founded 25 years ago. He worked for the MetLife insurance company and in commercial lending for Transamerica before founding his insurance firm.

He has also been involved in the community for many years, serving as the past treasurer for the Bel Air Jaycees, a founding member of the Society of Italian-American Businessman and a member of the Chesapeake Professional Women’s Network.

“I’m out in the community on a daily basis, I deal with thousands of clients on an individual basis … . I’m very in tune with the pulse of the community and people’s concerns,” Giangiordano said.

Traffic is the primary concern Giangiordano has heard on the campaign trail, as people have expressed frustration about congestion on Route 24, Route 924 and Route 22, three state highways that serve Bel Air.

“It takes a lot of time to get through different areas of Bel Air, and I know people would like to see some kind of alleviation,” he said.

Giangiordano has also talked with voters about growth and development and its impact on local traffic.

“We’ve built more houses and more people; what are we doing to do with the traffic situation?” he said are voters’ concerns.

He has heard other concerns through the years, through his profession and work in the community, about county fees and regulations people have to deal with when building a new structure or expanding an existing one, challenges in finding good employees, opioid abuse and maintaining the quality of local schools.

Giangiordano said that, through his insurance business, he has become “well-versed” on many different issues and is “a trusted advisor to thousands of people.”

“You have to be able to respond quickly; you have to be able to give advice to people quickly... people call me for advice because they trust me,” he said.

Karen Kukurin

Kukurin, 65, of Bel Air South, was the lone candidate in the Democratic primary, in which she received 1,905 votes, according to the Harford County Board of Elections.

She and her husband Ron Olsen, a former WMAR-TV reporter and anchor, have lived in Harford County since 2015. Both are retired; Kukurin said she is a former business executive and environmentalist.

The couple moved to Harford from California, where Kukurin also worked in government as deputy director for former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and in the nonprofit sector with the United Way.

Her business experience includes working as a vice president for The Employers Group, a management consulting firm for chief executives, and as CEO of a public relations firm.

“My depth and breadth of experience is well-suited to this position [on the council],” she said.

The administration of Schwarzenegger, who was in office from 2003 to 2011, was on “the cutting edge” of creating a green economy in California, Kukurin said.

“The [Harford County] council, I believe, has not been ahead of the curve, but behind it,” she said of dealing with issues such as climate change and protecting the environment on a local level.

She accused the seven-person council of being “more dedicated to development and special interests.”

“I keep hearing, over and over, consistently, that people are upset over this haphazard development and the traffic more than anything else,” she said. “They don’t feel that the council is putting them first.”

Kukurin is involved with multiple Harford County community groups, such as the Harford Land Trust, Friends of Harford and Harford County Climate Action. She also provided public input on the county administration’s green infrastructure plan earlier this year, as the county implements the HarfordNEXT master plan adopted in 2016.

She said the County Council should ask more questions of the administration, and it should create a 20-year plan for development.

“We need to look ahead 20 years and plan that way, not playing catch up,” she said.

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