The Harford County Council has started holding informal meetings with the nominees for the vacant District B Fallston/Abingdon seat – Fallston attorney Tim Braue, Abingdon attorney Derek Howell, and Fallston fire chief Joseph Woods.
The council does not seem to have established a formal process, and has not announced when the final selection will be made. It is likely that the vote will not occur at Tuesday’s meeting, and council members will meet with the nominees in groups of no more than 3 over the next two weeks to stay within council rules prohibiting unpublicized meetings with a quorum of members.
Councilmen Dick Slutzky and Chad Shrodes met with Howell in a two-on-one session on Thursday, at Howell’s request. A meeting with Council President Billy Boniface has been scheduled for next week.
The council has scheduled meetings on May 5, 12, and 19 before the May 22 deadline to make a selection.
Here are snapshot profiles and the resume of each candidate:
– Associate attorney specialized in the chicago divorce lawyer scene with Baltimore law firm
– Former Special Assistant to the Secretary for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development
– Former Deputy Secretary of Appointments for the Office of Governor Ehrlich
– Former Counsel to Assistant Attorney General in U.S. Department of Justice
– Former Deputy Associate Director in the Executive Office of the President in the White House
– Former intern for Joe Cassilly in the Harford County States’ Attorneys Office
– Attorney, founded and opened law office in Bel Air
– Adjunct faculty teaching at Community College of Baltimore County
– Former Maryland State Police trooper
– Former Legislative Aide for former Del. Sheryl Davis Kohl
– Past secretary of Harford County Young Republicans
– Elected in 1994 to Baltimore County Republican Central Committee
– Chief of the Fallston Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Company
– Owner of Paramedical Personnel of Maryland company
– Emergency Service Instructor at University of MD, Fire and Rescue Institute
– Trustee of Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association
– Former deputy with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office
– Rescue K9 Handler for Central MD Urban Search and Rescue Team
Braue and Howell each provided The Dagger with a version of the 14-item questionnaire they originally submitted to the Republican Central Committee during their initial application for the position.
Woods said he was “not comfortable with giving out the questionnaire until after the process is complete” and did not provide a copy.
To better understand the strengths and differences of each candidate, here are side-by-side comparisons of how Braue and Howell answered some of the same questions:
Why do you believe you are the best candidate for this position?
Braue: “I am the best candidate for the position because I have the experience, education and attributes that will enable the citizens of the District B to be fully represented on the County Council.”
Howell: “Although there are many reasons I am the best candidate for this position, I will list only a few:
(1) Attorney – It is my understanding that, at the present time, no one on the Council is an attorney. Permit me to humbly suggest that as an attorney I would be an asset to the members of the Council; especially on Constitutional matters. Indeed, not only have I been involved with Constitutional issues, as an attorney, but I also teach Criminal Justice and the Constitution at the Community College of Baltimore County.
(2) Public Safety – I spent over 10 years with the Maryland State Police. As a former state trooper, I have first hand experience in many issues involving public safety. From uniform patrol to undercover investigations, I have developed law enforcement experience at the local, state, national and international level. This experience will prove beneficial in addressing public safety and law enforcement concerns; to include the growing gang problem in Harford County. In addition, I was fortunate to work in the executive protection unit where I served on Governor Ehrlich’s protection detail.
(3) Prior Legislative Experience – I was fortunate to serve as a Legislative Aide for Delegate Sheryl Davis Kohl in Annapolis during part of the 2006 General Assembly.
(4) Prior Republican Experience – In 1994, I ran for only one term and was elected to the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee. I have worked on various Republican campaigns. I also have membership in Republican organizations.
(5) Small Business Owner – Law firm: The Howell Firm, LLC. Consulting: Know Howell, LLC.
(6) Church Involvement/Community Involvement – I have served in various areas with my church, Mountain Christian Church. Some of these areas of service involved serving communities in Harford County.”
What attributes and professional skills do you possess that will add value to the county council?
Braue: “I will bring a variety of professional skills as a member of the County Council. I am an attorney with experience in environmental regulations, commercial contracts, and legislation. I have also been a high-level government appointee in both federal and Maryland State government with specific experience in business development, housing, land use, and tourism.
I believe that my most important attributes are the ability to carefully listen and work with others to achieve solutions, while minimizing acrimony. As a member of the County Council, it is important to hear each member’s opinion and reach a consensus on a proper course of action.”
Howell: “Attributes – Team player, motivated, dedicated, honest and dependable.
Attorney – As an attorney, with an office in Bel Air, Maryland, I have an appreciation for the legal aspect of the duties and responsibilities ofthe Harford County County Council.
College Instructor – As a college instructor, I have an appreciation for Constitutional and educational issues. Currently, I teach Criminal Justice and the Constitution, which essentially is a Constitutional law class.
Former Maryland State Trooper – As a former state trooper, I understand the value and sacrifice of public service. My service in the state police provided me with a lot of contact with the public, and taught me how to work under a tremendous amount of pressure. The various positions I held in the state police allowed me to develop my leadership and management skills; even working with the private sector in one particular assignment to overcome obstacles faced by my unit.”
Braue redacted several questions from his RCC application regarding running for office in the future and how would support the RCC if elected. Howell said he does not believe he would have any problems or vulnerabilities to overcome when running for the District B seat in the 2010 election – a race he intends to enter, if appointed to fill the vacancy. Howell also said he would strongly support the RCC and local GOP through “teamwork and communication.”
Both Braue and Howell have been Republicans since they turned 18 and both said they understand participation in public events is a vital part of the County Council position.
What do you see as the biggest issue facing the County Council in the next two years and why?
Braue: “I see three important issues facing the County Council in the next two years that will dramatically affect the future of Harford County.
First, the Council will review the County Executive’s plan for comprehensive zoning revisions. These proposed changes to the County’s Master Plan will change the landscape of Harford County and must be carefully reviewed and considered by the Council.
Second, the Council, along with the County Executive needs to continue to take active steps to plan for the full implementation of the BRAC relocations to Harford County. We need to solve the infrastructure concerns resulting from the population growth, to consider additional steps to convince BRAC-related companies to increase the number of educated, high-income technology-based employees moving into the County, and to work with Harford Community College and local universities to provide training for our citizens to take advantage of the high-technology jobs that will be coming to Harford County in the near future.
Finally, the Council must continue to help the County Executive implement budget cuts as a result of the downturn of our economy and reduced assistance from the State.”
Howell: “The biggest issue facing the County Council in the next two years is dealing with the issues presented by the economy; as we are currently in a recession. Notwithstanding the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), in the next two years the County Council will have the tough responsibility of ensuring to meet the growing needs of the county, such as building new schools and additional infrastructure to support BRAC. This will need to be done while working with revenues that are significantly less than what was previously projected. Indeed, even though the County Executive’s budget has decreased spending, the State continues to shuffie more expenses to the County.”
What is your philosophy on land use and property rights in Harford County?
Braue: “I am a very strong supporter of individual property rights. During my tenure at the United States Department of Justice, I consistently advocated federal government support of individual property owners whose land was being regulated by local and state governments (or tied up in litigation by over-zealous environmental activists) to the point of being rendered completely unusable for any development. In those instances, I argued that individual property owners were entitled to just compensation (through eminent domain) for the value of their property. Similarly, as a member of Governor Ehrlich’s staff, I crafted legislation for the Governor in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London which allowed local governments to use eminent domain to take private property for purely commercial purposes (as opposed to traditional uses for public good). Both the Governor and I strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision and favored legislation preventing local governments from using their eminent domain power for a purely commercial purpose. In my view, individual property rights are the cornerstone of our rights of Americans and must be preserved.
In general, I will keep an open mind on all land use and development issues that may arise during my tenure. In the event that my constituents in District B will be affected by a pending development issue, I will listen closely to any concerns that my constituents have and will act in their collective best interests.
However, I am deeply concerned with the amount and location of residential housing developments that have occurred over the last 20 years in Harford County.
My philosophy is that local government officials must assure that our existing infrastructure can support the additional population increases that result from an increase in residential housing. Too often, our children have been forced to attend classes in trailers due to school over-crowding, or traffic has been snarled due to inadequate intersections and roadways. It is imperative that the necessary steps to lessen the impact of added residential housing be considered and approved prior to allowing residential developers to begin their projects.”
Howell: “I believe in the property owner’s right to use the land he or she owns. However, just as other rights are not unlimited, the County has the responsibility to enact appropriate legislation to ensure good stewardship of Harford County’s precious land resources.”
What is your experience and philosophy on budgeting at the county level?
Braue: “While I have not had the opportunity to evaluate budgets at the county level, I have experience reviewing Maryland State executive department budgets and making recommendations to the Secretary and Governor for areas of improvement and cost savings. During my tenure at Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, I was tasked by Secretary Aris Melissaratos with evaluating all programs within the department and determining which programs worked and which should be eliminated.
My philosophy regarding county-level budgeting decisions are two-fold. First, in a perfect world, the majority of taxes levied against our citizens and the subsequent spending should be done at the local level. This ensures accountability for all decisions related to expenditures of the taxpayers’ money. Unfortunately, our federal and state taxes and related spending have increased exponentially over the last 100 years, without the accountability required to assure prudent spending decisions. Now, our citizens are overtaxed and our federal and state governments spend entirely too much on programs that are neither wanted nor needed. Thus, as a member of the County Council, I will be very wary of any proposals that will increase the amount of our citizen’s hard-earned money that is taken from them and used for additional government spending. My second philosophy is that any money spent by our county government must be used for critical county objectives, in the most efficient manner possible. I will carefully review all departmental budgets for inefficiencies and will hold departmental heads accountable for their expenditures on behalf of our citizens. We must always fully understand that this is the taxpayers’ money and spend it wisely.”
Howell: “My experience and philosophy on budgeting at the county level comes from being a taxpayer. My real experience stems from my role as an owner of two small businesses. In that role, I have had to make decisions based on a budget.
Government, however, depending on its level, often does not understand the purpose of a budget. It has been said that the “rubber meets the road” in local government. Unlike the Federal system which simply prints more money and the state government which passes on expenses, county government is transparent and must work within its means.”
Howell is the only candidate who has been elected to public office – he was elected to the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee in 1994.
Neither has been convicted of a felony.
Here are the full lists of Republican Central Committee questions and their respective answers, as provided by: