The next installment of The Dagger’s Q & A with candidates in the 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Election features the Democratic candidates running for the Harford County Council District E seat, representing the Aberdeen and Churchville areas.
With county councilman Richard Slutzky running for county council president, the District E seat is guaranteed new representation. In the Democratic Primary Election, former county councilwoman and state delegate Barbara Osborn Kreamer faces Duvowel Peaker, Sr., both of Aberdeen. The winner will advance to face the victor from a crowded Republican field in the General Election. Their answers to The Dagger’s three questions appear below. (Note: Kreamer initially agreed, but eventually changed her mind about participating. Her explanation is stated below.)
Dagger: County council members often make decisions in areas where they may not have expertise, such approving tax increment financing proposals, expanding the development envelope, or approving multi-million dollar capital projects. Briefly describe the experience/skills you would bring to the county council and how you make decisions in areas outside your expertise.
Kreamer: I have reconsidered about responding to The Dagger’s questionnaire.
It does not appear that there is enough readership in District E to warrant my participation.
Peaker: Basic Information: Retired US Army, Full-time student at Cecil College majoring in Government Logistics. I graduate in December, 2014 as a proud member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. I have been a resident of Harford County for forty-three years. I’m a product of the Harford County Public Schools, graduating from Aberdeen High School in 1989. I’m married, a father of four and a grandfather. I’m an Elder at Word of Faith International Outreach Ministry in Aberdeen. I am the Head Coach for the 14U Aberdeen Bulldogs Football team, and the Assistant Coach for the Aberdeen High School Eagles Football team.
I have over 22 years of active duty military experience, education, and training involving logistical support operations where I integrated a variety of specialized support activities in order to develop a comprehensive logistics plan. Furthermore, I monitored the program planning, resources, fiscal management, training, manpower management, and automated data processing to meet the logistics plan. I have identified and corrected delays and problems which in-turn directly affected my standard operating procedures and processes. As a recently retired Sergeant First Class, I thrive on working with people from various levels and backgrounds to elicit their cooperation to perform specific tasks, and complying with regulations, laws, or practices. In summary, I am trained, experienced, and ready to be a part of the Harford County Council.
I have various skill sets, however, I would learn to make decisions based on the skills and expertise of others. I am a good team player and self starter so I would seek out committees containing attributes outside my primary expertise to be a part of for the experience. I can also learn the basics of the area(s) outside my expertise through personal research, listening to online webinars, taking a class, and/or going to industry conferences on the topic. I’m willing to ask questions of staff and others with the goal of understanding the issue at hand. I would pose useful questions i.e. How do you know X is true? or What do other businesses do about X? In extrapolating from what I can understand I will be able to listen to consultants on the topic, taking well documented notes on pertinent information. I am always working to deepen my knowledge and skill sets.
Dagger: Please cite a previous decision by the Harford County Council with which you either strongly agree or disagree, and why.
Kreamer: No response.
Peaker: The concept plan for a continuing care retirement community and 120-home residential development on a former farm (155 acres) east of Bel Air is a decision Harford County Council has made which I strongly disagree with, known as the Eva Mar Development. The project makes a negative impact on the surrounding communities and residents. It is a disruption to the existing communities. It will generate more traffic along congested Route 543. There are safety issues for residents. The development could impact emergency service response time and impact the environment and property value. The Council has used the zoning codes to the advantage of the developer, Elm Street Development. The residents were not adequately represented by the Council and did not have input early enough in the process. We should require constant monitoring and review of zoning laws, the Master Plan and the Land Use Element Plan. By using technology (i.e. social media, apps) citizens could be involved in the early stages of the process. It is essential to have a wide spectrum of resident input and support in the county’s growth. There is a need for equitable and effective methods of protecting our quality of life.
Dagger: The Harford County Council is charged with certain responsibilities. Among them are: Enacting legislation, adopting the budget, overseeing the redistricting process, and serving as the Zoning Board of Appeals. Looking ahead, what issues within the council’s purview are of specific interest or concern to you and why? Please cite two issues.
Kreamer: No response.
Peaker: The following issues within the council’s purview are of specific interest or concern to me:
Adopting a budget is one of the most important items on the Harford County Council’s annual agenda. The budget establishes the Council’s priorities and sets planned funding levels for each program. This year’s economic forecast is substantially worse than last year’s. Harford County Council needs to get adequate state funding. Long term budgeting process requires more partnership development between the state and the county. I believe we need a strong budgetary oversight with accountability, responsibility and transparency which has been neglected. There is too much controversy between the County Executive’s office and the Council. The Council needs to be a proper checks and balance for the executive branch. The county needs to have a dedicated fund for education making it our number one priority. I’m concerned with teachers not getting salary steps in four out of five years. All of the counties around Harford County are getting their salary steps plus the cost of living adjustments. We must maintain parity in teachers’ salaries to keep from losing quality teachers and continue to offer programs that encourage academic excellence. Quality teachers need to be paid excellent salaries. Quality education needs to be our number 1 priority for the future of Harford County.
Planning & Zoning:
The Council has misused its power with regard to the zoning codes (i.e. Eva Mar development and Walmart). Developers should not have more influence with the council than citizens. The Master Plan needs to be revisited and constantly monitored. All stakeholders need to be involved early in the process so the impact on citizens and communities can be in the best interest of all involved. I would work with local chamber of commerce, city councils, community associations and homeowners to monitor and review the Master Plan and zoning codes as it relates to future land development. I strongly oppose the charter amendment (Bill 14-21) to eliminate the Zoning Board of Appeals from the Council. It would leave residents without an elected representative to affect zoning law decisions. If left to the purview of the Circuit Court there is no legal authority that decisions will be made in the best interest of the entire county. This is too much power to be in the hands of an unelected person. The cost for using the court system is prohibitive to residents. Our citizens elected the Council so they would have representation.