Aberdeen Candidates Forum Draws Questions On Stadium, Hotel Tax, Water, Term Limits

With just a few days before Aberdeen voters go to the polls, the mayoral and city council candidates worked hard Wednesday night at the Candidates Night Forum to demonstrate why they would be the best choice to represent the city for the next two years.

Nine of the ten active candidates (all 3 mayoral candidates and 6 of the 7 running for city council) fielded 9 total questions generated by some of the approximately 100 people in attendance and The Dagger, which moderated the event.

Those 9 questions included:

1. Why are you running in this year’s election?
2. How would you position Aberdeen to reap the greatest benefit from BRAC?
3. What is your position on a hotel tax for Aberdeen? If you support it, how would you overcome opposition to the tax?
4. What is your opinion of the city’s current obligations under the Ripken Stadium contract?
5. What is your position on Aberdeen’s water supply issues?
6. How would you lower taxes or generate new revenue for the city? Would you annex or are there specific city departments, services or areas you could cut back?
7. How effectively do you feel the city police department is handling its duties? How might the department improve its service to the community? Do you believe the Aberdeen Police Department is adequately funded?
8. Would you support term limits for city council members and the mayor? How long should each serve?
9. What is your one (1) priority if elected/re-elected?

The last question, with extra emphasis on the ONE priority, seemed to give the candidates most pause. Here is a summary of each candidates’ one (well, in most cases) priority if they are elected:

Young: Presbyterian Homes project with regard to the water and sewer hook-up rates

Bennett: Continue to grow the commercial base and job center in the city

Hiob: More public connection at city council meetings, especially letting citizens ask questions directly to department heads

Kreamer: Lower your tax bill and then annexation won’t be so scary

Elliott: “Listening to people.” Elliott then went on to rattle off about 4 other priorities, blind and deaf to the protests and gestures from the crowd and moderators. In fairness, Elliott ended up demonstrating she’s already on top of her first priority – when one woman in the audience stood up and shouted “ONE!,” Elliott promptly listened and passed the microphone down to the next candidate.

Garner: Presbyterian Homes of Maryland Inc. “The city will lose milllions.”

Kupferman: Priority is prioritizing priorities

Landbeck: Acquaint the city with the comprehensive plan

Todd: Make sure citizens get a return on their investment of taxes

Some other highlights from the Aberdeen candidates forum included:

– We had some trouble with our live video feed at the start of the forum (don’t ask me to explain), but fortunately Todd, who admitted to me earlier in the evening that she was “really nervous,” had to get up and make a stop in the restroom. That bought us enough time for our best technical minds to get together and resolve the glitch.

– Once it was up and running about 125 people watched (at least part of) the forum live via the streaming video on The Dagger.

– About 80 seconds into answering her first question, Kreamer’s microphone shorted out and stopped working. She quickly turned toward the moderator’s table and sat down – thinking we had cut off the volume because she extended beyond her 90-second time allottment. “We don’t have that power,” I said. “It must have been a higher power.” Strangley, Kreamer seemed to be the only candidate who had microphone problems throughout the night. Maybe a higher power truly was involved.

– When addressing term limits for the mayor and city council, Garner patted Kupferman, who was seated to his left, on the arm and said “No offense. I don’t think we need a Senator Byrd” (referring to U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd – the longest serving member in Senate history, with a half-century in office). The crowd broke out into laughter and Kupferman, who was first elected to office in the same year I was born, thanked Garner for the nice transition.

– Kreamer was the most theatric of the candidates – standing for almost every question, reading and referring to literature she handed out, and at one point even weilding a city budget document as a prop.

– Young was more subdued. In her closing statement, she read quietly from a poem about greatness.

– Hiob launched two interesting ideas: rebooting the city’s former walking community meetings and the possibility of Aberdeen adopting in-district elections to ensure representation from all portions of the city.

– When it came to Ripken Stadium, Hiob said he would go directly to Cal Ripken Jr. to talk “as fellow Aberdeenians” about what can be done. Not to be outdone, Kreamer said she would take the issue to the next branch on the family tree – straight to Cal’s mother, Vi Ripken.

– Garner was one of the few candidates brave enough to invoke the name of Sen. Nancy Jacobs as the primary roadblock preventing Aberdeen from reaping the benefits of a hotel tax. Most of the other candidates simply referred to her as “the senator.”

– Notable attendees included Del. B. Dan Riley, Harford County Councilman Dick Slutzky, delegation candidate and TEA party organizer Patrick McGrady, county executive candidate Steve Wright, Havre de Grace Police Chief Teresa Walter, George Harrision – treasurer of the New Harford Democratic Club, and plenty of Aberdeen city employees – including a department head or two.

– Notable absence was city council candidate Trudie Norman, who never sent in an RSVP and did not show up for the forum.


  1. Aberdeen Voter says

    I was there. Kreamer did a better job answering the questions than I would originally give her credit for. We may have a real 3 person mayoral race.

    • St. Justin says

      You’ve got to be kidding! Babs wasn’t spouting FACTS…her numbers were FABRICATIONS at best. At one point, she actually asked Ruth Elliot if the numbers that she was trying to read off of her own memo were correct! NICE………..

  2. On Looker says

    I was there aswell.
    In my opinion..
    Bennett hurt himself
    Hiob didnt loose or gain
    Kreamer helped herself and hurt Bennett
    Elliott hurt herself
    Garner hurt himself
    Kupferman helped himself
    Landbeck helped herslf
    Todd hurt herself
    Young didnt loose or gain,
    I think overall it was a good event and that next time the event should be held a little earlier, because by looking at the people there, most of them probubly had made up thier minds by then.
    Good job to the DAGGER and thanks to the FOP for sponsering it.
    At least the puppet master wasnt there.

    (I was right there was alot of ummming from Mr. Bennett!)
    I like Mike HIOB for Mayor!

    • Coledata says

      Talking about the puppet master, I just reeived this e-mail; heck out the last line:

      Last Weekend

      We are looking for volunteers to do door knocking and literature drops on behalf
      of Michael Bennett for Mayor of Aberdeen. We will meet at Aberdeen High School
      on Saturday the 31st at 10am and on Sunday the 1st at 2pm. Feel free to contact
      Art Helton 410-808-7847 for more info.

      Forward email
      http://ui.constantcontact.com/sa/fwtf.jsp?m=1100972167067&ea=xxxxx@xxxxxx.com &a=1102794536937

      This email was sent to xxxxx@xxxxxx.com by arthelton@aol.com.

  3. Delegate Dan Riley says

    Thank all involved with staging, promoting, and hosting the forum. For this I thank The Dagger, FOP 128, and American Legion Post 128. I also must thank all the candidates for their commitment to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Aberdeen. To the person who punctured my tire please know that I arrived home safely. The tire was repaired and the repairman said there was no question that it was punctured deliberately. I hope nobody else had their tires damaged. To the tire vandal, sleep tight.

  4. Harford Cnty Mun FOP Lodge 128 says

    On behalf of the Harford County Municipal Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 128, I would like to say THANK YOU to all the citizens from Aberdeen who attended the Candidates Forum on Wednesday night.

    Additionally, I would like to thank the candidates themselves. I would like to thank the Dagger Press team of Brian Goodman, Steve James, Aaron Cahall, and Cindy Mumby (the name that took me forever to remember). What a great concept to show the forum LIVE!

    Lastly, I would like to thank the American Legion Post 128. Without their continued support and dedication to our lodge and most importantly the citizens of Aberdeen.

    The Candidates Forum began two elections ago in Aberdeen with the FOP sponsoring the event. The concept of such a forum has spread to the Town of Bel Air this year (sponsored by the Bel Air Downtown Alliance). I foresee a forum of the same coming to the City of Havre de Grace as well as the County elections.

    Again, Thank you to all involved!

    Jason Neidig
    Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 128 (MD)

    • greg d. says

      I would like to say thanks back for all you did to put this forum on. This in addition to the city council meetings are a positive thing to maybe open meaningful dialog between the elected officials who work for us and the residents of the city to get things done in a civil and productive way.

  5. george martin says

    The Candidates were given just nine questions. There were countless possible issues but time constraints precluded most. The questions ranged from Why do you want to be Mayor/City Council, a gimme question that few answered with any sincerity to issues with hot topics, water, annexation, property taxes, Ripken Stadium and BRAC. I scored the candidates on their responses zero to nine. I don’t take shorthand and did not bring a tape recorder so I opted for key points or comments with the following results :
    Mayor Bennett: 3 points, He spoke about growth and revenues. But you can’t have growth when you’re still wearing the same shoes you wore when you were a kid. You have to expand or annex, in short get bigger shoes to grow into. He mentioned he was on a BRAC council which discussed what else, APG and BRAC and STILL the City is way behind Harford county and even Baltimore City in marketing our city as a place to live and do business. He is in favor of a Hotel Tax as were all of the candidates. Harford County is the only county in the state without it. The Mayor and City Council have had two years to straighten this out (the Council longer even). Find out what the other counties respresentatives did right and DO IT.
    Candidate Kreamer: 3 points, Her schtick was property taxes, after I heard the same thing from her on six out of the nine questions there was no way I could see where she’s be any better than the incumbent.She did make points on the Hotel tax but had to add her two cents about our property taxes. She went over her former public service several times. She should be commended for her education achievements and career fields as an attorney and now as an English professor at our community colleges. She doesn’t support growth and that alone will kill Aberdeen.
    Council President and Candidate Hiob: 7 points, I’m a Hiob supporter but I managed to stay focused and objective. Mike made points on a solution for City Water, Growth, use of Ripken Stadium, hotel tax and BRAC. He’s believable, he cares and no one’s pulling his strings.

    City Counsel: (Quickly)
    Incumbent Elliott: 2 points, She supports growth inside of the development envelope. What the hell is that? She doen’t know why we don’t have a Hotel tax…Everyone else in the room knows, one of the state senators has a close family relation in the hotel business in Harford County and that tax is seen as bad for business, so it doesn’t get the necessary support when the bill comes up in the General Assembly. Elliott wants to look at water studies…those have already been done, pick one for heavens sake that doesn’t involve paying Harford County five million dollars!
    I’m running out of time here:
    Garner: 7 points. He made his points on Ripken Stadium and the hotel tax.
    Lanbeck: 8 points: She was impressive with her knowledge of the annexation process..the whole City should know what she knows.
    Kupferman: 8 points, no give Kup all 9 just for being forthcoming. He’ll do the best job he can for the City as he always has, but its hard when the deck is stacked against you three to two before the show even starts.
    Challenger Todd: an impressive 8 points. A strong showing for a newcomer. Though I heard her Green history four or five times too often.
    Incumbent Young: Almost had 3 points but wanted to read a poem, like she reads from the newspaper so she gets 2 points. She might ask the right questions and research the issues but her thought process and issue resolution get crossed.

  6. says

    Let’s get some predications on the Aberdeen Election tomorrow night. Weather looks like it’s going to be nice, so should be a good turnout.

    Here are my predictions (Not based on my voting preferences. I am an Aberdeen resident):

    Mayor – I think Bennett wins. Hiob didn’t have overwhelming support two years ago when he was reelected to council, and I don’t think he’s done enough this campaign to paint Bennett in a negative light. Kreamer did well at the candidates forum, but not enough for those not in attendance. Even though The Dagger has provided tons of information on the candidates positions and backgrounds, Aberdeen still isn’t a very “connected” city. There is no Wetlands this year to cause a change in Mayor.

    Council – I think Landbeck and Kupferman are shoe-ins. The names are familiar and they have done nothing to hurt themselves. I think Elliot stays on for that reason too. Again, nothing this campaign season to really hurt them. The final spot should be interesting. I’m starting to think Garner gets it over Young.


  7. RWinger says

    I did my patriotic duty and cast my ballot armed with knowledge. I didn’t need endorsements, I didn’t need twisted misinformation, and I certainly didn’t need “the scorecard”.

    • Dave Yensan says

      RWinger, did you notice that the scorecard has no authority line? I would guess that Bennett has taken the Art approach to life, all laws and ordinances are written for the common masses but not those of us in the throne.