Interview with Aberdeen Mayoral Candidate Barbara Kreamer:
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 successful in your election bid, what do you hope your legacy will be when you leave public office? How do you want to be remembered?
My legacy from my previous years in elective office as a Harford County Councilwoman and State Delegate includes better Harford County schools, a park in Aberdeen by City Hall and the library, alternative schools for disruptive youth in Maryland, no more corporal punishment in our public schools, fair pay for women and minorities in state employment, night differential pay for Sheriff’s deputies, access to waterfront in public landings on several county waterways, the Northeast Regional Waste Authority trash burning plant at APG and disposal of stored chemical munitions at APG.
I want to be remembered as the woman who returned to public office as Mayor of Aberdeen
a) to keep Aberdeen as a livable community;
b) to restore it to being an affordable small city;
c) to foster successful students in successful public schools;
d) to facilitate people being able to move in and out of town according to their personal needs and goals as opposed to escaping a burdensome property tax rate;
e) to protect her community from people who would shift their costs to the local taxpayers as the developers of the Village of Carsins Run are trying to do with the consent of my opponents;
f) to reallocate some of the costs of law enforcement from the neighborhoods to the business districts, which have received bountiful tax advantages, in order to relieve Aberdeen’s residents of excessive property taxes;
g) to reopen the doors to Aberdeen for new residents by bringing down the property tax bills;
h) to govern according to sound planning and zoning principles;
i) to foster the municipality of Aberdeen as a growing, healthy center of the greater Aberdeen area;
j) to develop the volunteer base to lead a broader array of recreational and cultural activities so that people have more choices of enjoyable activities;
k) to enhance the charm of the community with garden and park enhancements and more artistic, literary, recreational and musical events;
l) to provide economical utilities and basic services of government, such as by being the Mayor who took back the car keys.
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?
I believe that for its law enforcement “buck” Aberdeen gets enough “bang”. What a terrible pun, Brian. The problem is that too many dollars are being devoted to law enforcement. The people of Aberdeen are like a snail hauling a huge shell in law enforcement expense. We have four times the staffing level that the Sheriff’s Department fields. Forty-five officers, seventeen civilian law enforcement employees and fifty-two cars are way too many for a town of 13,000 people. The budget became overburdened in law enforcement spending during the Simmons administration, and the current government with its law enforcement mindset has not corrected the imbalance. I remember the horde of law enforcement employees lining Route 22 campaigning for Fred Simmons. The law enforcement service has become too overbearing in our civic processes in Aberdeen; their fraternity even hosts the candidates’ night.
I would not hand Aberdeen’s law enforcement over to the Sheriff’s Department, however. That department is headed by an elected official, and I have seen too much politics there in past years. I believe that the Aberdeen Police Department should be administered according to sound law enforcement principles and should not be subject to political vicissitudes. Neither should the police engage in the self-aggrandizing publicity seeking and empty reporting that have characterized the APD in the past.
3) What do you believe is the best path to securing Aberdeen an affordable, sustainable, longterm water supply?
I think the Rehrmann administration made a mistake in welcoming Clorox to Perryman. We had stable well fields there. But this industry overburdens a precious resource. I would challenge the County on Clorox’s operations and environmental impact. We need to continue cooperative arrangements, but we also need to seek more independent sources of water, even though they may be small quantities. Desalinization of water is far too expensive to be a viable method of obtaining fresh water. We may need to differentiate between potable and non-potable water in our supply and fee structure. We need to protect well heads. I will use the resources of environmental sustainability research at Hopkins, the University of Maryland, the Regional Planning Council and federal sources. I think we should guard against using cost as a means of rationing, so I will investigate the fee structure for water and sewer if and when elected Mayor of Aberdeen to stop overcharging, if that is what is being done.
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?
Vote? Ha! Previous administrations already bought the Brooklyn Bridge when they approved the development for the Ripken Stadium area and the Ripken Stadium project. Remember Magna Corporation could not follow through on a gaming proposal after the voters approved slots (what were they thinking?)? I do not think that the Wetlands team will be back with such “incentives” in the present real estate climate. However, this project may be one of the zoning proposals that the incumbent was referring to when he told me that he is “in the middle of things.” I think that the Village of Carsins Run proposal will be back seeking property tax-free status. Both of my opponents wrote to the Legislature calling for mandatory tax-free status for Presbyterian Homes and other enterprises of 501( c )(3) corporations. I lobbied against that bill in Annapolis. It was amended and then passed as enabling legislation. If and when elected Mayor of Aberdeen I will call on our legislators to repeal the measure. Aberdeen residents are overburdened with property taxes now; municipal leaders need to protect their rightful revenue streams. And I will protect Aberdeen’s public fisc from corporate raiding.
5) Who do you hope is elected to the city council and why?
I hope that the people of Aberdeen will elect me as Mayor and will elect a group of city council members who:
a) are concerned about the property tax burden on Aberdeen’s residents and are motivated to provide us relief;
b) are well educated so that they think critically in order to cut through the nonsense that will come at them from bullies and lobbyists;
c) are creative thinkers because we have some problem-solving to do;
d) are people of good will so that we can cooperate in seeking solutions for the common good;
e) are healthy, energetic and possessed of the acumen required for the job;
f) are people of vision as well as prudence; and
g) are people of good character who hold will uphold the public trust.
From Kreamer’s Wikipedia page:
Barbara Osborn Kreamer is an American lawyer and politician from Aberdeen, Maryland and a former Democratic member of the Maryland House of Delegates. She was the first woman member of the Harford County Council and the first elected member of a county board in Maryland to give birth.
Kreamer served one term on the County Council of Harford County, Maryland from 1978 to 1982. She represented the County Council to the Northeast Regional Waste Authority and the Board of Estimates. She led the Council to increase funding for public education improving Harford’s funding ranking in the state. She initiated a comparable worth plank in the American County Platform from her post on the National Association of Counties Committee on Labor and Employee Benefits.
Two governors appointed Kreamer to four year terms on the Maryland Commission for Women in 1977 and 1981. She led the comparable worth initiative that reformed the Maryland state government pay plan to pay workers in female and minority dominated positions according to comparable worth principles.
Kreamer was elected to two terms of the Maryland General Assembly, representing District 34, Harford County, from 1983 until 1991. She sponsored successful education, employment, family and procurement bills. Kreamer chaired the Procurement Subcommittee that reviewed and sponsored a long delayed revision of the Maryland Procurement Code. The Maryland State Teachers’ Association, the Maryland Psychologists’ Association, Nine to Five: Baltimore Working Women and the Maryland Nurses Association gave Kreamer awards.
She served as the President of the Maryland Association of Elected Women in 1985. Elected by the Democrats of the First Congressional District of Maryland, she was a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1988 that nominated Michael Dukakis.
In 1990, Kreamer ran for Congress in the 1st Congressional District. She lost in the Democratic Primary to Congressman Roy Dyson, who then lost to first time candidate Republican Wayne T. Gilchrest in the General election, who subsequently lost the Republican nomination in 2008. Kreamer was endorsed by The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun and EMILY’s List.
In 1994, Kreamer ran for lieutenant governor on a Democratic primary slate headed by state Sen. Mary A. Boergers, D-Montgomery, in the “first all-woman ticket” in the nation. The winning ticket was Parris Glendening and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
In 1998 and 2002 Democrats of Harford County elected Kreamer to the Democratic Central Committee with the highest number of votes on the ten member board. In 2006 Kreamer was reelected to a third term.
In the 2002 elections Kreamer ran for District E of the Harford County Council to represent Aberdeen, Churchville, Hickory and Fountain Green. Kreamer was unopposed in the Primary, and The Baltimore Sun endorsed her in the General Election. Republican Richard Slutzky, an Aberdeen High School retired teacher, won.
From 1971 to 1976 an English and Creative Writing teacher at Bel Air High School, Kreamer later became a lawyer after graduating from the University of Maryland School of Law and passing the Maryland bar. She conducted a solo general civil practice of law in Harford and Cecil Counties.
She received a B.A. from Washington College in 1970, an M.L.A. from The Johns Hopkins University in 1975, and a J.D. from University of Maryland School of Law in 1989.