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Mayors forever, in Havre de Grace and beyond

A trip on the Harford County political merry-go-round (with an apology to the late Drew Pearson):

A tip of the cap to Mayor Wayne Dougherty and the other folks in Havre de Grace city government for organizing last week's tasteful ceremony to honor former mayor Gunther Hirsch with the rededication of city hall as the Mayor Gunther Hirsch Government Center.

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It's an honor well deserved for one of the more passionate public servants I've known in my 39 years covering the news in Harford County. Let this be said about Dr. Hirsch: He truly has been his own man and done things his way. Most political folks wish they could be such, but they seldom are. Not so, Dr. Hirsch.

It does seem like a lot of water over the dam since the early 1980s when Dr. Hirsch and his late first wife, Poldi, (an architect who would later go on to design the "Hirsch Center") used to join us for our regular post-city council meeting bull sessions over in Clark Turner's office conference room on Franklin Street or in Tim's (now part of Coakley's). Let's just say a lot can happen in 30 years. I didn't see the ensuing Gunther Hirsch political career - eight years as mayor, four as Harford County Council president, the valiant fight to "save" Harford Memorial Hospital - coming in those days. A lesson for us all: never underestimate the smartest man in the room.

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Speaking of mayors, congratulations to Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett, who has taken over as president of the Maryland Municipal League. Bennett came in on a high note, as he and Bel Air Mayor Dave Carey were the leaders of the municipalities' successful effort to persuade Gov. Martin O'Malley to restore much of the towns' share of the state highway user revenue that O'Malley had been redirecting to state coffers.

Bennett is up for re-election this fall, and he says he plans to run for a third term. It will be interesting to see what kind of opposition he faces, if any.

A lot of people think Bennett, a Democrat, will consider running for a county office or for the legislature when 2014 rolls around, especially because the local Democrats need some fresh faces to run at the county level.

Perhaps that will happen, but being mayor of Aberdeen isn't the worst gig around. You've got BRAC, baseball, and your own police force, about the only thing lacking is lots of extra money lying around to spend on fancy public works projects. History has thought us that Gunther Hirsch wasn't slowed down in Havre de Grace by a small city treasury, so maybe Bennett should consider hiring him as a consultant.

In our story last week, there was apparently quite a bit of reminiscing at the Havre de Grace ceremony about the good aspects of being a mayor, not just from Hirsch and Dougherty, but from former mayor and current county executive David Craig and John Correri, who has also served in that capacity twice. One thing about Havre de Grace and its history and traditions, if you are mayor once, you are mayor for life, and long afterward, if you check out the names of parks, street names - city hall, etc., etc. But where's Correri Boulevard, Loblein Terrace and Barker Park?

And speaking of David Craig, the county executive is moving along in his nascent campaign for governor in 2014, or at least he's presumed to be running for the state's top job. Craig's supporters have set up a website David Craig for 2014 (www.davidcraig.com) where you can donate money, volunteer, ask for Craig to appear at your event and even get involved in "rebuilding the GOP in Maryland," though nowhere does the website expressly say Craig is actually a candidate for governor.

Republicans may well have a good opportunity in Maryland in 2014 with no incumbent Democrat running for governor - and a likely carryover to state voters from a big Republican win in the 2012 national election. Does that make Craig, a seasoned politician with plenty of experience at the municipal, county and state levels, a player for governor? He should probably first establish he's the go-to person for the state's Republicans, basically the face of the state GOP.

An early endorsement from Harford and Cecil State Sen. Nancy Jacobs might help in that regard.

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