Seven candidates will be on the ballot Tuesday in Havre de Grace and your votes will determine, which three of them will end up sitting at the dais for the next two years as members of the City Council.
For those who want a final look at the candidates, a forum has been organized for Sunday night at 8 p.m. in the Havre de Grace police station. We’ve also compiled some information here on each of the candidates and are offering Dagger readers, regardless of whether they live within the municipal boundaries of Havre de Grace, to cast your votes now for which three candidates you would like to see as the next Havre de Grace City Council members.
Let’s review what we know so far about these contenders.
Barry Anderson: A former assistant to former city mayor Gunther Hirsch, Anderson is a constant presence around city elections, but this time he’s running for office himself. Here’s a letter Anderson provided along with his answers to some questions posed by The Dagger:
I love Havre de Grace! I love its quirks, its history and its wonderful people!
I am running for City Council because I care about my City and I want to be the dog in the fight for the future of Havre de Grace.
I moved to Havre de Grace in 1990; moved my mom, Rie Anderson, to the City from Silver Spring, MD; married a local businesswoman, Genevieve DiGiovanni, in 1995. Mom passed away here in 1999.
As the Regional Director, Region III, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in Philadelphia, PA; I managed it from worst in the nation to third in three years.
As Chief Operating Officer of a national company providing fire protection life safety services to health care facilities; I successfully managed the company; overcoming $600,000 of debt and placing it in a positive profit position for the past two years. The best thing I did for the business was recruit Havre de Grace City Council President Steve Gamatoria to be the Director of Technical Operations.
As the Special Assistant to Mayor Hirsch for two years I accomplished many important projects adding value to the quality of life for City residents (See Attached Bio).
The most important issue the Mayor and City Council will face this next term is: What to do about the downturn in projected tax revenue caused by the failing economy and the mortgage/housing crisis?
New housing starts are down in the City. State deficits will keep us from getting much money from the O’Malley administration. The Federal government has its own problems with 9.3 trillion dollars of debt. And, the cost of Havre de Grace City government has risen significantly since 1998.
- The number of City employees has increased from 90 to 120 positions in 10 years. More than 15 of these new positions are in the Police Department.
- Personnel costs are a very large part of the City’s increasing day to day operating budget: the institutionalized 6% per year upward creep of City wages; the ever rising costs of employee health plans; City funded employee retirement; taken together.
- Deferred maintenance of streets and other City infrastructure, caused by imprudent decisions of the past to delay this work, must be dealt with now and important Capital projects must be budgeted for the future.
The Mayor and City Council are faced with deciding between: cutting services; cutting the costs of services (employees); raising taxes; cutting necessary Capital projects; or, doing something else…whatever that may be; or, doing nothing?
I believe my experience in business and government and having made important decisions like this make me the smart choice for the City Council.
The second issue facing the Mayor and City Council is: What to do about water and waste water?
It is well settled that whoever controls water, controls their destiny. Havre de Grace has the water; therefore, the people of Havre de Grace should control their destiny.
We need an intelligent plan to deal with the water needs of the City and its future expansion plans. We also need to decide if or what role we want to play in connection with the growth and development of our neighbors. What shall we do about the costly enhancements to the wastewater plant now in progress? Sure the State has pledged $18 million, but what about the long term payback of the balance of the $45-50 million committed to by the City? This question may be our most daunting.
I believe my experience with the City government and business; my good analytical and decision making skills make me the smart choice for the City Council.
The third issue soon confronting the Mayor and City Council is: What do we do about the “MOE”; that is, the development of the land at the Interchange of I95 and Route 155?
Do we allow the building of a Commercial Retail Center (CRC) or one more Shopping Center as a “gateway” to our City? How will it impact the rest of the City? Don’t we already have the infrastructure on Route 40? Aren’t we trying to upgrade the Route 40 corridor? What about downtown? What happened to “Smart Growth”? Who will pay for the necessary upgrades to the Havre de Grace Exit?
I believe my experience in: community and economic development; Havre de Grace City planning; writing the final update of the City’s 1996 Comprehensive Plan and the original application for the Enterprise Zone; bring an experienced, informed, balanced, historical perspective to this issue, and, again make me the smart choice for City Council. I say no to the JDH development.
Please consider voting for Barry Anderson for City Council on May 6, 2008.
555 Giles Street
Havre de Grace, MD 21078
Growing, Growing, Gone: (Take two minutes to describe your personal position on growth and how Havre de Grace should proceed with new development/annexations? What about the mixed-office zoning situation at Route 155 and I-95 Interchange – how would you like to see that highly visible property developed? Give us your vision of what Havre de Grace should look like in the next decade.)
I have consistently supported plans for an Office Park & Signature Hotel and Conference Center at this unique Gateway to the City. I wrote this portion of the Comprehensive Plan in 1995. See the Plan, that’s my vision for the City.
Downtown: (In two minutes, tell us how, if you were in office, you would have handled the downtown parking situation with regard to the water plant project? For those who were in office, what might you have done differently? Is the situation rectified?
This whole line of questions are so not important that to answer them would give them more weight than they require.
Will there be enough parking for downtown Havre de Grace heading into the busy spring/summer/tourism/LPGA seasons?
Who cares? We should be grateful for so much downtown business activity to worry about not enough parking.
How important is the downtown area to the city as growth and commerce extends outward to its municipal boundaries?
Again, See the Comprehensive Plan we gave the vision for the downtown business community.
The problem is that the City Administrations of the past have not bought into that vision nor have most of the current retail business owners. We need to recognize who we are and we are not. We need high end boutique shopping downtown. Look how well Island Jack, Par Excellance and other such high end businesses are doing! That is our future in downtown retail.
A Safe Public: (Take two minutes to talk about public safety) How safe is Havre de Grace?
Safe! Major crime is down 13% from last year.
Is the city’s Independence Day ‘horror’ of a few years ago just a distant memory?
It seems like the mayor and council have been giving the police department adequate funding, but what areas need improvement?
The current Administration has made upgrading the Police Department and increasing staffing a priority. I agree with that. We need to come up with some creative financing, home purchase assistance and/or tax reduction /credit programs to keep police employees living in town. But, we need to be careful that we watch that it doesn’t break the bank.
Do you see gang activity?
Increase in rental units bringing an unsavory element up on the hill?
Lawlessness in the city marina?
Anywhere in the city you are afraid to walk?
Making an Impression: (Please take two minutes to recall a random story about Havre de Grace, tell a self-deprecating joke, demonstrate a hidden talent, or otherwise exhibit something you’d like viewers/voters to remember you by)
Once upon a time……. No! Stop! Look at me. Now I am dancing and singing. I should be on American Idol.
John Correri: A former city councilman who became mayor by default when the position suddenly became vacant. He had been in elected office for longer than 25 years before getting trounced in bids for a Harford County Council seat and last year’s election to keep the mayor’s position. Correri has not been in contact with The Dagger.
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. Here is some information Cullum provided to The Dagger:
For those who may not know who I am:
I am Fred Cullum and I am a candidate for Havre de Grace City Council. I am a life long resident of Harford County and I have resided in Havre de Grace since 1969. I have been married to my wife, Kathy, for 40 years. I am 58 years old and on December the 31st of 2006, I retired from the Aberdeen Proving Ground Fire Department as a Battalion Chief with 33 and ½ years of service.
Since 1969 I have been, and remain, an active member of the Susquehanna Hose Company. During my 38 years with the Company I have been elected to all administrative offices and most fire line offices. I currently hold the office of Vice President. I also serve as a member of the Board of Directors of the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenways.
In May of 1995 I was elected to the Havre de Grace City Council and was subsequently re-elected 5 times, serving six consecutive terms over a 12 year period from 1995 thru 2007. During those 12 years I was elected by my fellow Council members to serve as Council President 3 times. Obviously, I was not a “rubber stamp” or a “go along to get along” person and I must have been doing a good job representing the citizens or I would have not been re-elected to five consecutive terms. Havre de Grace City elections are never short on candidates, and I never ran unopposed. In the 2007 election I chose not to seek re-election to the Council but instead ran unsuccessfully for the office of Mayor.
After leaving office I have continued to be involved with the city, having been immediately appointed to the Task Force to study the operation of the City Water and Sewer Operations and make recommendations to the Mayor for changes that would make those operations more efficient. I was then appointed to serve on the city Water and Sewer Rate Review Task Force. I was also immediately appointed to serve on the City Planning Commission as well. Should I not be successful in my quest to return to the Council I will continue to attend Council meetings regularly and serve in what ever capacity I can, to help keep Havre de Grace the best place to live, work and play.
I am seeking election once again to the City Council because I feel I have much to offer in experience and lessons learned. I understand the feeling of some that we need new blood and new ideas in these elected positions. However, I also feel that experience and knowledge of the operation of the City, as well as the history of the issues dealt with can be a tremendous asset.
The question of how much time does it take to be a Council person, depends on how much time each individual has or wants to put into it. The more time one can devote, obviously, the better they can represent the citizens. In today’s world, council members need to be available for numerous meetings, many of which are during normal business hours. There are some who find it strange when I say I want to return to the council because “I enjoyed it and I miss it”. My view is that, as with anything you do in your life, if you don’t enjoy doing it, you probably don’t or won’t do it well. Holding elected office certainly is not for everyone, as so many who have ran and been elected who then couldn’t wait for their term to end, have found out.
I could go into a long list of things that I have been involved with, accomplished or been responsible for over the course of my tenure on the Council but nothing is ever accomplished (good or bad) by one alone, it is a team effort that always requires a majority vote. There were many things however, that I was the leader on and was able to get the support of fellow council members and did accomplish.
Although I have no desire to hold elected office outside the City of Havre de Grace, I understand the need to develop and maintain a working relationship with our elected officials in other Cities and Towns as well as the County, State and Federal level. Over the course of my time on Council I have pursued these relationships by being active in the Maryland Municipal League in Annapolis. I served for several years as a member of the Maryland Municipal League’s Legislative Committee and also served on the League’s Board of Directors. I was elected to the office of Vice President of the local Harford-Cecil Chapter. The Maryland Municipal League is extremely helpful to local elected officials in providing data and statistical information when requested. Many times we find that an issue or problem that we may confront has already been dealt with by another municipality and the information they can provide can be of great use.
My campaign for City Council, as was my very first, is based on my desire to provide the Citizens of Havre de Grace with good Common Sense Decisions based on consideration of all the information possible, with fair and equal representation to all.
Should anyone like to contact me for more information my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is 443-807-7026 .
Fred H. Cullum
Joe Gamatoria: The nephew of incumbent city councilman Steve Gamatoria, who announced he would not be seeking re-election due to personal reasons. Here were some of Gamatoria’s answers when I asked him about his job, his age and whether we would have seen him run if his uncle were still on the ticket:
I am 26 years old, Director of Operations for the Pats Pizzeria Restaurant group, and a volunteer with Susquehanna Hose Company. I was very active in elective politics at Havre de Grace High until I graduated in 1999. I attended Harford Community College and have taken some classes at the University of Maryland (MFRI). I have decided to run for office for several reasons, most notable is the fact that I would like to see the ideas in the Comprehensive Plan for HdG come to fruition. I would like to continue the hard work of my uncle Steve and introduce several ideas of my own. Since I am 26, and the charter states that you must be 25 years old to run for elected office I was unable to run until now. I’m not sure if there will ever be a ticket with both of our names. We are not anywhere near that bridge. I appreciate your time and energy with this new medium of communication.
Bill Martin: An Aberdeen Middle School teacher and the brother of Mary Martin, the co-chair for Wayne Dougherty’s succesful mayoral election campaign committee last year, Martin has been hosting weekly sessions with the public in downtown Havre de Grace. From Martin’s web site:
My vision is for Havre de Grace to remain a great place to raise my kids. That it is the type of community that is safe, healthy, financially sound, and civically minded. I will work my hardest to preserve these values for our city. And I would hope that as we look towards the promise of the future, we will keep a watchful eye on our treasured past.
To uphold my vision, I will stand by the following principles:
- Public Safety– We need to keep Havre de Grace equipped with the best police force, fire department, and ambulance corps in Harford County. Funding and resources must continue to support these organizations key to the health and safety of Havre de Grace’s citizens.
- Arts and Culture – Havre de Grace offers a wealth of history and local culture. We need to continue to value and share these resources with our community and with our visitors. Local museums like the Lockhouse, the Decoy Museum, and the Maritime Museum continue to need our support, both financially and socially.
- Local Business – Our local businesses thrive in a vibrant waterfront downtown. We must continue to support our local businesses and allow them to grow and prosper in a way that will benefit all Havre de Grace citizens, consumers, and visitors.
- Community Events – Havre de Grace offers families a wealth of community events to participate in. With First Fridays, Children’s Art Festival, Seafood Festival, Easter Egg Hunt, July 4th Parade and Celebration, and countless more events, Havre de Grace families have a unique opportunity to come together in a small-town setting to celebrate and share family and community life. We must continue to support and enhance these events in order to make Havre de Grace an even greater place to live.
- Growth – Havre de Grace has the potential for great growth and prosperity in the coming years. I support intelligent, planned growth that will be beneficial to all the citizens of Havre de Grace, including businesses, families, and visitors to our great city.
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), here is a little of what Miller and I have talked about during this election:
“I have a lot of project that I have started that I would like to see completed.”
That being said. I am near the end of my first term as an elected City Councilman.
Last year I was Chairman of the Parks and Marina Committee. I was successful in convincing the Mayor and Council to install the New Bathroom at Tydings Park. Saving considerable funds by stopping the proposed structure. This project was fast tracked and a lot of effort was expended to get it done on time ahead of the start of the tourist season. There are plans to add bathrooms to the Lafayette Street Pumping Station as part of the upgrade to the Waste Water Treatment Plant. This will provide a convenient place for visitors to the lighthouse and the parkland next to it that is used for several festivals through out the year. In the near future plans are to install a facility behind the visitors center to service the downtown visitors and somewhere in the vicinity of Jean Roberts/David Craig Park once these facilities are developed.(3 to 5 years)
I revived a proposal that was shelved to place a pier near the Lighthouse. The city had potential grants to cover this and was in danger of losing the money. The pier is scheduled to have construction started this March. I contacted The Harford County Master Gardeners Club and they designed improvements for the recently acquired property next to the light house. The Club presented their plan to the Mayor and Council and hopefully the proposal along with other improvements to the area will be funded in this upcoming budget. The plan is to improve the looks of the area with native plantings and interpretive signs, maintaining as much open space for mini festivals. Upgrades to the electric and water service are planed as well.
I started discussions with Harford County Parks and Recreation to construct fields on the 57 acre City property off of Lagarret Lane. This project proposes the construction of a soccer / lacrosse / football field at the Havre de Grace Community Center. The existing parking and undeveloped area will be improved to create fields, practice area and parking. The County Executive included $1,625,000 funds in last years budget spread out over five years for this project. This year there was $75K for planning.
This year I serve as Chairman of the DPW Committee. We had a slow start this year with our paving program. Once we started we paved all of Market Street and two blocks of St. John Street. There were plans to pave Chapel Road last fall, but negotiations between the developers that were responsible for the road west of Oak Tree Drive broke down. The matter was finally resolved, but not before the weather turned bad. The current plan is to start on Chapel Road in the spring as soon as the Blacktop plants open back up. Also scheduled for the early spring is 100 – 400 blocks of Revolution Street and the 100 and 200 blocks of Girard. More streets will be added to the list when the new budget is approved in July.
One thing to remember. Havre de Grace has over 70 Miles of streets and lanes. All the streets in Havre de Grace will eventually be repaved. Some thought has to go into the planning. We have areas that have major infrastructure problems caused by polybutelene pipe. The city is aggressively working to replace these connections. We have streets where development is planned in the near future. We don’t want to pave a street until we fix the problems so we don’t have to dig up a new road.
Lilly Run. Last year the City let a contract with a engineering firm to develop a plan to finally address the flooding problem associated with Lilly Run. The project is in the early stages. We have established a dialog with many of the property owners along the stream bed and have had discussions with several State and Federal agencies. Hopefully we will start to see some progress next year.
James Walker: Walker ran for city council last year, lost and really hadn’t been heard from since – until he emerged to run for office again this year…only to once again disappear after he filed. I know he works at Aberdeen Proving Ground and was a pretty nice guy. The Dagger has not been in touch with Walker, though not for a lack of trying.
Here’s the city’s official notice of election:
CITY OF HAVRE DE GRACE NOTICE OF ELECTION
Notice of City Election– Havre de Grace City election at St. Patrick Hall, located on the 600 block of Pennington Avenue between Stokes and Juniata Street. An election for three members of the City Council for the City of Havre de Grace will be held on:
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Polls will open at 7 a.m.
Polls will close at 8 p.m.
Qualification of Voters – All citizens of the United States eighteen years of age or upward who have resided in the City for thirty days preceding a municipal election and whose names shall appear upon the list of registered voters of the City shall be entitled to vote at any election held under the provisions of the Charter.
Absentee Ballots– Contact the Harford County Board of Elections Services, located at 133 Industry Lane, Forest Hill, MD, telephone 410-638-3565, to apply for and receive an absentee ballot. The deadline for absentee ballot requests by mail is April 29, 2008. After April 29, 2008, emergency absentee ballot applications must be obtained at the Election Office. The completed ballot must be returned to City Hall by 5:00 p.m. on Election Day, May 6, 2008.
In case you’ve missed any of the back and forth in the last month between some of the candidates, their supporters, detractors and Dagger readers, you can check them all out in this story.