Interview with Aberdeen Mayoral Candidate/City Council President Mike Hiob:
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?
1.) First of all, I intend to succeed. Either way, I would prefer my legacy (that’s a strong word) to be that “Mike Hiob was a Councilman that had the courage to make decisions that were always in the best interest of the City…..NOT looking toward the next election”. In other words, leave with my integrity untainted.
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?
2.) In one word….ABSOLUTELY. That doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement (no organization or department is perfect). I believe the City’s crime stats under the law enforcement efforts of A.P.D., as well as their record of awards from the Governor on down verifies my opinion. My “part one” answer should explain my “part two” answer….I would never vote to dissolve A.P.D. and turn over law enforcement to the Harford County Sheriff Dept. I don’t claim to be an expert on law enforcement, but I’ve learned a lot over the past 6 years. I can tell you one change that needs to happen though. The A.P.D. needs support from it’s Mayor AND Council Members. Currently, only the Council Members seem to be supporting the A.P.D. As far as funding is concerned, I believe that the department (in general) is funded adequately (especially considering the economy). But I would suggest that more flexibility should be built into their budget. In other words, give the department the ability to shift funding from one budget line to another, as long as the total amount doesn’t end up being more.
3) What do you believe is the best path to securing Aberdeen an affordable, sustainable, longterm water supply?
3.) Surface water from a tidal source. This source would provide a virtually unlimited supply of water, BUT would require a more intensive process to make it potable. Will the City go about this on it’s own, or will we be part of a regional / countywide co-op, with participation from the 3 municipalities and Harford County? That question that cannot be answered at this time. One advantage of a “regional solution” would be that all users would pay the same rate, thereby “leveling the playing field” within Harford County. One thing is certain…paying 5.44 million dollars for 300,000 gallon per day is NOT “a historic agreement” in any way, shape or form (as Mayor Bennett claims on his current campaign literature). It is quite simply a short, to mid-term solution that could have been accomplished almost two years ago if leadership had prevailed.
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?
4.) The entire Council (Mayor included) voted for the first “Wetlands” annexation, that included all of the “amenities” that you described, but I believe it was more like 3 years ago (not 2). That being said, one member decided to change their mind and come out against the annexation, but the annexation was approved with a 4 to 1 vote. Ultimately, the annexation failed by referendum. But your question is “what would my vote be, and why”? If the “proposal” was similar (as you suggest), then I would vote for it again. I believed it was a net gain for the City back then, and I still do. I could try to explain the multitude of reasons as part of my answer, but it would take pages. I will say this though….”The Wetlands”, or “Glengarry” WILL one day be developed (within Aberdeen, OR in Harford County). If it happens in the City, we can control what type of development takes place. If it’s just outside of the City, we control nothing. If you don’t believe me, or fail to understand, then look just a “stones throw” away at the former Beechtree Golf Course. It closed at the end of last year, only to be sold to a residential developer. Soon, hundreds of houses WILL be built on what was a beautiful golf course. We (Aberdeen) get the traffic, school crowding, and many other perceived negative ramifications. We (Aberdeen again) don’t get to control the development, we don’t receive property taxes, we lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars for water and sewer connection fees (that could be used for repair and/or replacement of our existing failing infrastructure), etc. Basically, Aberdeen is rapidly becoming the dreaded “hole in the doughnut” (and I’m not talking about something good like “Dunkin Munchkins”!) Aberdeen needs to progress, not be stagnant. Besides, why does the press always focus on this area? Just last month, Mayor Bennett introduced a 70 acre residential annexation request. This is simply an addition to the existing Woodland Green/Chapel Glen subdivisions off of Bush Chapel Road (all by the same developer). Once again, this is NOT a bad thing. To wrap this long answer up, I will say that development is NOT bad if it’s done properly (and I believe the city CAN develop properly with experienced leadership). Look at the many wonderful neighborhoods that have been added to Aberdeen over the years….Hillsdale, Wyndemere, Ramsgate, Twin Oaks, Royal Exchange, Rock Glenn, and the aforementioned Woodland Green and Chapel Glen (sorry if I missed yours!). These were all as a result of annexation. We wouldn’t be Aberdeen without these great neighborhoods. Finally, if we plan accordingly, we can grow our tax base, while providing opportunities for the next generation of our citizens.
5) Who do you hope is elected to the city council and why?
5.) For the sake of Aberdeen, I hope that I am elected as Mayor. I have served 3 consecutive terms on the City Council, and as I stated earlier, my decisions are always made for what (I believe) are in the best interest of our city. I have the knowledge, experience and integrity to lead our city through, and out of this recession. Beyond that, I would like to stay out of the “endorsement” area. As Mayor of Aberdeen, one of my many goals is to work with the entire City Council as a team (something that has been sorely missing for quite some time). Therefore, in the interest of not wanting to potentially jeopardize my future relationship with potential colleagues, I won’t publicly state “who I hope is elected to the City Council” (but thanks for the bait!)
From Hiob’s biography on the city website:
Council President Michael “Mike” Hiob was born January 14,1959, at Harford Memorial Hospital. Mr. Hiob is a lifelong resident of Aberdeen. He resides on Graceford Drive in Burkley Manor with his wife, Barb and two children, Adam and Hannah. Council President Hiob attended St. Joan of Arc Elementary School, graduated from Aberdeen High School (Class of 1977), and attended Harford Community College. For ten years he was employed by Dynamic Science, Inc. as an Engineering Technician at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Since 1990, Council President Hiob has been employed by Harford County Government as an Environmental Enforcement Inspector. Mr. Hiob is a member of the New Harford Democratic Club, a charter member of the Aberdeen Recycling Committee, a 2004 graduate of the Harford Leadership Academy, and a 2005 graduate of the Maryland Municipal League Excellence in Governance. Council President Hiob was elected in November 2003 and is serving his third term on the City Council. He was appointed by the Mayor to serve as council liaison to the Fire Department, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and the Tree Committee.