Interview with Aberdeen City Councilwoman Ruth Elliott:
As part of The Dagger’s coverage of the City of Aberdeen’s municipal election on Nov. 3, the following questions were presented to each candidate for mayor and city council.
The five questions (bolded and boxed) were chosen to generate discussion on specific topics. The candidates’ answers have been included verbatim as received by email or reported following an interview.
1) If you are unsuccessful in your re-election bid and never return to office, what will your legacy be? How do you want to be remembered?
I believe I will be successful. If and when I decide to hang-up my political hat, I hope the citizens of Aberdeen remember that my utmost concerns were for them. Keeping spending down which in-turn keeps taxes down is what I have always endeavored to accomplish.
2) Do you believe Aberdeen gets enough “bang for its buck” from the city police department? Would Aberdeen be better off dissolving the APD and handing protection over to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office? What changes, if any, are needed within APD – underfunded, overfunded, top-heavy, etc?
For the most part, the Aberdeen Police Department does a good job. Our budget when all aspects of cost are considered, which include salaries,pensions,health insurance,liability insurance, fuel, clothing, maintenance, repair, 401K contribution, cars etc., is approximately 34% of our budget. The total general fund is only $12.4 million. Of that nearly $4 million is spent on salaries, overtime, property insurance, fuel, repair & maintenance of vehicles, purchase of add’l vehicles, uniforms, etc.. This alone is 1/3rd of our total General Fund, not counting all the additional benefits mentioned above. With all this said, I would not be in favor of dissolving our police department. I would however, like to see some reduced spending in a number of areas such as:
a. Limit take home cars to only those officers who live in the city limits. 95% of officers, live outside City limits. Only 4 out of 46 live in the City.
b. Fuel Cost budgeted at $133,000 a year can be reduced if cars are limited to officers living in the city.
c. Motor Vehicle Expenses budgeted at $88,600.00 a year, can be reduced if cars are limited to officers living in the city.
d. No new police cars would be needed ($110,000), if cars are limited to officers living in the city.
e. Vehicle Insurance would be much cheaper.
3) What do you believe is the best path to securing Aberdeen an affordable, sustainable, longterm water supply?
I have advocated for many years that we need our own facility and not rely on the County and State to provide our water needs. As development revenue is received, I have been told by our current Mayor, Mr. Bennett, that he will support a program which sets aside a portion of revenue to secure our own water facility.
4) If the Wetlands team came back with another proposal for annexation similar to the one talked about two years ago (including the millions of dollars upfront for city infrastructure, funding for city personnel and equipment, new fire substation, etc), what would your vote be and why?
The voters of the City by referendum have said “no”. The millions of dollars were on the table back in 2005 also. At this time we cannot provide the services required for such a large development.
Plus this land is outside our development envelope. Even the County is not in favor of R-3 zoning. High density housing is not what I believe the voters want. As you know an annexation request can be submitted time and time again. I’ll listen to the voters.
5) Who do you hope is elected mayor and why?
A Mayor who will listen to the people and act accordingly.
From Elliott’s biography on the city website:
Councilwoman Ruth Elizabeth Elliott was born in Aberdeen. She is the daughter of Nelson J. and Jessie E. Farrell also natives of Aberdeen. Her father worked for the town of Aberdeen for 45 years. She graduated from Aberdeen High School. Attended Harford Community College and the University of Delaware. She is married to Robert Elliott who is a life-long resident of Aberdeen. They have four (4) children; Pamela Jean, Robert Jr., Larry Nelson and Gary Allen, (twins). She also has seven (7) grandchildren and 2 great-grandsons. She worked at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds and retired from there after 32 years service. She was first elected to the Aberdeen Board of Commissioners (our governing body) in 1982. She was the first woman ever to serve on the Board since Aberdeen’s incorporation in 1882. She served for five (5) consecutive terms (1982-1992). When the Aberdeen Charter was changed in 1992 to a Mayor and Council form of government, she ran for the Mayor position (1992-1994) and became the first elected Mayor of Aberdeen. In November 2005, she returned to the political arena by winning a seat on the Aberdeen Council. She is currently serving as Aberdeen’s Liaison to the Senior Center Advisory Board, and the Heritage Trust Committee.