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In Harford politics, new blood always welcome and more is needed

Election Day in Aberdeen is Tuesday, and the only contest of note is the mayor's race.

Mayor Mike Bennett is running for a third term. He's challenged by Patrick McGrady. Bennett is in his 60s and relatively new to the political game. He ran for mayor in 2007 and won in an upset over the incumbent, Fred Simmons. Before that election, most of Bennett's politicking had been done in the local fire company, where he and other family members have been involved for decades.

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McGrady is in his 20s. He's a political junkie, and he's made no secret of wanting to go places in politics. Already a member of the county's Republican Central Committee, McGrady also ran for the House of Delegates last year, losing in the general election. Many people, including me, thought at the time he had a good shot at winning in the delegate race because of his understanding of campaign mechanics. So much for prognostications, but in McGrady's case, I'm sure he got valuable experience.

My point in all this is we have two recent entries into the political world vying to run one of our three municipalities. Regardless of the outcome, it's great to see new blood come into the local political game, regardless of the ages of the players.

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It does seem strange, however, that nobody besides the four incumbents is running for seats on the Aberdeen City Council this year. You would think that in a place as big as Aberdeen and with as many issues, more than four citizens are interested in serving.

This is no knock on any of the four incumbents. Remember, Bruce Garner and Sandra Landbeck have been serving only since 2009, and Ruth Ann Young only since 2007. The fourth member, Ruth Elliott, is the dean of Aberdeen city government, having served as town commissioner, mayor and now council member. There's a reason why she keeps getting elected — she's popular and deservedly so. You won't find a more candid person in any level of politics in Harford County.

Ideally, every office should have two serious candidates, either of whom can competently do the job if elected. To me, politics American-style gives you a choice of personalities and points of view. McGrady versus Bennett certainly epitomizes this. If McGrady says it is daylight, Bennett would invariably say, no, it's nighttime. But differences don't have to be as striking as night and day, or only confined to beliefs. Sometimes, styles are different but the beliefs are the same. Like I said, for me it's all about having a choice.

The number of choices in elections in Harford County has been declining in recent years, and it's a disturbing trend. I don't have the answers why. It's probably a combination of factors from people not caring, to just not having the time to care. Or, there are too many people who apparently think everything is so wonderful to the point they don't need to be involved. As much criticism is leveled at some of the Tea Party folks, at least they've ignited debate. Being uninvolved or complacent is something I associate with Soviet Russia or China and similar places where, too often, people who get involved end up in jail or dead. Thankfully, that doesn't happen to those who speak out in America.

So, my thanks to Mayor Bennett and Patrick McGrady for getting involved and wanting to serve as mayor of Aberdeen. The next step is for all those city residents to go out and vote for one of them on Tuesday.

Be involved. Care about your city. Yes, it all sounds overly trite and ridiculously rah-rah, but it's also what makes our country and our county great!

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