From the New Harford Democratic Club:
Minutes of the New Harford Democratic Club
Wednesday, April 4, at the Aberdeen Holiday Inn Express
President Steve Johnson opened the meeting at 7:05 pm
Johnson greeted those attending and lead everyone in a pledge to the flag.
Johnson asked those present to stand and identify themselves
Treasurer George Harrison submitted the financial report. Johnson asked for and received unanimous approval.
He also asked for a motion to approve the minutes from the February meeting which had not been approved because of the cancellation of the March meeting due to the weather. Approved unanimously.
Steve Johnson introduce himself as the first of the night’s speakers who is running for a seat in the Legislative District 34A.
Johnson noted that he is an owner of the Johnson Pharmacy in Aberdeen and has been active in civic affairs for a number of years as director of Economic Development for Aberdeen, and as a member of the county Economic Development Advisory Committee. On economic development issues, He called for proper planning to maintain continued growth in the county and provide good paying jobs while protecting our environment. He said the county needs a strong legislative team in Annapolis to make sure the voices of county residents are heard and to bring back to Harford its fair share of tax money. He noted that the tax dollars raised on gas and vehicle registration have been used in the past for other state projects. He said that money should be used for maintaining our road systems and that he would work to do just that. He said his experience with the Harford County Tourism Board gave him insight into the importance of protecting our natural resources. He then took questions from the floor.
Johnson then introduced Bridgette Johnson running for Dist. E on the County Council. Johnson noted that she has been involved in economic development for many years in Harford County. She was raised in Havre de Grace and after years in other areas, returned to Harford County to join the County’s economic development office. She said she will be working for redevelopment of the Route 40 corridor. After years with the county department she established her own consulting firm. She expressed concern about the direction of development in the Route40 corridor and she will work to improve that area. She is concerned that good growth is hampered by excessive infrastructure charges. She said she supports continued development in the Edgewood area, and would work for better public transportation for workers. On Education, she supports more vocational training, especially along the route 40 corridor. She said she would bring new, fresh ideas to the council. She supports more diversity, noting that the current council is all male.
Johnson then introduced Winnie Roche, who is running for District F on the council. She has lived in Havre de Grace for 15 years working for Havre de Grace Tourism. Previously she worked in tourism in Dorchester County. She started First Friday in Havre de Grace and it has been continued. She joined county government under the Craig administration as director of tourism. She said she was a longtime advocate for the hotel tax that has finally came to fruition. She has worked to promote county tourism. She believes that a conference center is needed in the county which would generate more room rents in the hotels which increases revenues to the county. She established her own consulting firm working with state tourism officials to increase state tourism activities. She discussed her family and the concern for school safety in the county. She supports better pay for county teachers and more safety resource officers in the schools. She advocated for more support for mental health action in the county.
Johnson then introduced Annie McElhenny Compton, who is running for Have de Grace city council. She grew up in Havre de Grace, her grandfather was mayor and owned McElhenny’s news stand. She left for the West Coast after school, and became involved in public relations in San Diego, including promotion for Air New Zealand. When she returned to Havre de Grace she became concerned about the handling of public events in the city. She said she is concerned about economic development in Havre de Grace, too many businesses closing. She said she would like to see a hotel on the water front, believing that would bring additional activity to the downtown area. She also would like to see a grocery store, such as Trader Joe’s. She said she is concerned about how the city leaders have mislead the citizens about water and sewer issues. She also expressed concern about the loss of the carnival and believed the problems cited by the police could be resolved. She said her strong suit is promotion and tourism and believes she can bring new ideas to the city.
Johnson then introduced Kurt Smith, also running for Havre de Grace City Council. Smith said he noted in walking around the city that there is a notable scarcity of mid growth trees, that there is an abundance of older trees nearing the end of their lifetime but fewer mid growth trees. He is proposing a city plan to increase the number of mid growth trees through a city sponsored program for homeowners. Smith then expressed concern that there is almost no diverse opinion on the council. There is no dissent, all seem to agree to whatever is put before them. There is no transparency. Little discussion of the issues. He said his goal is get the public more involved, to hold elected officials accountable.
Johnson thanked the speakers
Meeting was adjourned at 8:25pm.
Submitted by Acting Secretary George Harrison