The Bel Air Candidates Forum is over, but some of the answers that attendees gave will fuel debate right up until Election Day – one week from today.
Four of the five active candidates for Bel Air Town Commissioner fielded 18 total questions generated by some of the approximately 60 people in attendance; the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, which sponsored the forum; and The Dagger, which moderated the event.
In brief, those questions included:
1. How would you solve downtown parking woes?
2. Have services grown with the town budget?
3. What’s the main area of concern for Bel Air?
4. How would you lure BRAC transplants to town?
5. Thoughts on a new town hall?
6. Do you support a cut-through of MacPhail Road?
7. Would you disband Bel Air Police Department to save money?
8. How would you attract new business to town?
9. Can you do anything about condition of halfway houses?
10. Are town administrators getting paid too much?
11. Are Bel Air police officers getting paid too little?
12. Can the town restrict noise levels at local bars?
13. How do you balance your opinion with desires of citizens?
14. Will Boulton and Gateway be getting a traffic light?
15. Would you support a term limit for commissioners?
16. What characteristics should a commissioner possess?
17. Can you promise you won’t run for higher office?
18. What’s your one priority if elected/re-elected?
Some highlights of the forum included:
– Dave Carey’s admission that after a few failed attempts at running for the House of Delegates, “it’s not in the cards” for him to seek higher office again.
– Rob Preston’s admission that he’s “leaving his options open” about seeking higher office, which may result in the inability to complete his term if re-elected.
– Carey broke rank with the other candidates and said he was against spending $180,000 to put a traffic light at Boulton and Gateway – especially at a time when the town just canceled its $3,500 Christmas party. While others spoke about the safety issues at that intersection, Carey said it was a lot of money to spend on a problem only 1,000 people have to deal with. Greg Adolph pointed out that was 10% of the town’s population and he wouldn’t ignore them.
– The closest thing to candidate confrontation occurred when Ricky Davis said he would stand up for 2 elderly women who asked the commissioners for the traffic light at Gateway and were told the money wouldn’t be there for 5-6 years. Preston said he was at the meeting and didn’t see Davis there, and recalled no such comment from any of the commissioners.
– Davis was the loudest. Adolph was the quietest. Carey did the most eye-rolling. Preston may have been the most poised and polished.
If you are interested in watching the event for yourself, get comfortable, because the video is pretty long:
As for what you didn’t see Monday night:
– Surreal Moment of the Night: One-time candidate Steve Testerman (whose name will still appear on next week’s ballot even though he has announced he has withdrawn from the race) somehow slipped into the back room while we were making last minute preparations with the 4 candidates participating in the forum. No one realized it until Carey asked, point blank, “Who’s that guy?” After he identified himself, I promptly escorted Testerman out of the room. I was then stunned when I asked him if he was still “in the election” and his answer to me was “I don’t know.” I guess he knows now.
– The no-show candidate Dave Mitchell was absent because he couldn’t get out of work Monday night. At one point, he wanted to send a proxy to stand-in and answer questions in his stead. Then he wanted to at least submit a statement to be read into the record. We ended up denying that request, as it would have presented his thoughts and views in a different context from the other candidates.
– Davis’ comment to me as he stepped down from the podium at the end of the forum: “Thanks, man. But way too long.” While I appreciate his candid criticism, the forum only ran from 7pm to 8:45pm. It was advertised as running from 7pm to 9pm. I wonder, if elected, how he’ll ever survive those budget planning sessions.
– There was a quorum of town commissioners present. In fact, all 5 Bel Air town commissioners were in town hall for the event. Also seen at the forum were Del. Susan McComas, former Harford County Councilman Mark Decker, and Maynard Edwards, 105.7FM DJ and co-host of The Ed Norris Show.
– Our Emmy Award-winning cameraman (honestly) pulled out all the stops with a dual-camera setup and production worthy of some of the hit television shows and movies on which he’s worked. He was a last-minute fill-in, who was interested in participating just because of his personal interest in some of issues impacting the town. While he prefers to go nameless, I couldn’t let the night pass without giving him a shoutout.
– For what it’s worth (and that probably means nothing), Preston and Davis left their empty water bottles on the dais where they had been sitting. Perhaps Preston knew he’d be back soon enough to pick up the trash. Perhaps both gentlemen know something I don’t about the sanitation service within town hall. Perhaps they both figured the moderator wouldn’t mind picking up their trash. He did.
So what was your favorite moment, comment, stretch-of-the-truth from Monday night’s candidates’ forum in Bel Air?