As last week came to a close, there weren’t enough people interested in running for Havre de Grace City Council to even hold its election this May.
That changed in a big way this week when a late stampede of candidates, including some well-known names and political heavyweights, charged to city hall and registered to appear on the May 6 Election Day ballot.
When the dust settled and the doors of city hall were locked at 5 p.m. Tuesday, eight men had officially declared their intentions to run for the three Havre de Grace City Council seats.
Without further ado, here is the list of contenders. After the citizens of Havre de Grace cast their votes, three of these people will take a seat at the dais as city councilmen:
Jim Miller: An incumbent city councilman finishing out his first full elected term in office (he was previously appointed to serve out the remainder of a term), Miller won the hearts of Havre de Grace residents and visitors alike when he lovingly, and nearly single-handedly, brought a new and affordable bathroom to Tydings Park – in the process bringing great relief to those who dreaded having to enter the portable toilet or restroom trailer that formerly graced the yacht basin.
Fred Cullum: A retired Aberdeen Proving Ground firefighter who also serves as vice president of the Susquehanna Hose Company, Cullum served six terms on the Havre de Grace City Council before deciding to run for mayor last year and subsequently getting booted out of city hall for the first time since 1995. During his years in office, Cullum was known for being a thorn in the side of past mayors David Craig and John Correri.
James Walker: Walker was an unknown commodity when he ran for city council out of the blue last year and he hasn’t done much in the last 10 months to help himself in that regard. A nice guy, who works at Aberdeen Proving Ground, I remember Walker as being the friendly neighborhood father who was running for office because he didn’t like the direction the city was headed – particularly regarding the operation of Havre de Grace’s annual Independence Day Celebration.
William Thomas Napier Martin: I had to double check and make sure this was one guy and not two or three running for office. I don’t know much about Martin, in fact I don’t know anything besides the fact that he lives in Havre de Grace and filed to run for city council, but I’m told he is a Harford County school teacher in Aberdeen and the brother of Mary Martin, the co-chair for his Wayne Dougherty’s succesful mayoral election campaign committee last year. Interesting, if true.
John Correri: There’s no introduction needed for this man. A former city councilman who ascended to mayor when David Craig was appointed (and subsequently elected Harford County Executive), Correri had been in public office in Havre de Grace for longer than a quarter-century before getting tossed from office last May when he couldn’t defend his appointed mayorship. He also launched an ill-fated campaign for the District F Havre de Grace area seat on the Harford County Council, but was trounced by former city administrator Mary Ann Lisanti.
Barry Anderson: A constant presence around city elections, even if he wasn’t running, Anderson is heavily affiliated with the local Democratic party. I know what you’re thinking – Havre de Grace’s municipal elections are non-partisan, aren’t they? Yes, but try telling that to the ticket of Democrats who were recently propelled into office in Aberdeen thanks to the choreography of a local Democratic club. Back to Anderson, I wish I knew more about this guy, but, reminiscing back to his letter-writing and city council-criticizing days, I’m sure I’ll hear from him soon enough.
Kalman Riegelhaupt: Maybe the most recognizable face in the race, even if you can’t spell his name, Kal is a throwback to a previous generation in Havre de Grace – in America, really. You may know him as the white-haired guy who pedaled his way around town every day waving to friends and foes alike as he took stock of his city. Unfortunately for Kal, his gruff style and blustering mannerisms typically overshadow his strong suits – an acute business acumen and a sense of history, politics and government that could prove useful on a city council.
Joe Gamatoria: Here is another familiar name which caused me to do a double-take and ask city public information officer Jim Newby to repeat himself when reading off the list of city council candidates. Incumbent city councilman Steve Gamatoria announced last week he would not be seeking re-election due to personal reasons, so we’re left with the next best thing – his nephew. His uncle came from the Susquehanna Hose Company and earned respect on the city council for his professionalism, but it remains to be seen if Joe is cut from the same cloth.