Bel Air Town Commissioners David Carey and Robert Preston both may have their eyes on bigger political prizes, but before they get a chance to move up the elected office food chain in November 2010, they’ll have to defend their town commissioner seats this November.
Bel Air will hold its municipal election on Tuesday, November 3 this year and, while the town’s elections are fairly mundane (especially in comparison to the City of Aberdeen elections, which are traditionally held the same day), they have produced an impressive crop of town commissioners who have quickly worked their way up Harford County’s political ladder.
Del. Susan McComas, County Councilman Jim McMahan, and former County Councilman Robert Cassilly all got their start as town commissioners in Bel Air.
Carey, a 12-year town commissioner, and Preston, in his seventh year, have both been speculated as candidates for various elected offices in Harford County’s 2010 gubernatorial elections, but for the time-being both men have to concentrate on retaining their current political gigs.
Four candidates have already filed to compete for the two town commissioner seats: the incumbents – Carey, who has been a town commissioner since 1997; Preston, who has been one since 2002; and the challengers – David E. Mitchell and Steven E. Testerman.
In each of the last two election cycles, Carey has made a bid for the District 35B seat in the Maryland House of Delegates – losing both times to McComas. It remains unknown if Carey, a Democrat, will take a third shot at McComas, but then again, McComas is expected to face serious competition in her Republican primary race – former County Councilman Mike Geppi has declared his intention to run and yet another Bel Air Town Commissioner, Terence Hanley, is mulling entering the race.
David E. Carey was born and raised in Baltimore County and is a graduate of The College of Wooster (Ohio) and the University of Baltimore School of Law. He is a partner in the Bel Air law firm of Brown, Brown and Young, P.A., where he has worked since 1990. His practice is concentrated in the areas of civil and criminal litigation.
Commissioner Carey was first elected to the Town of Bel Air Board of Commissioners in 1997 and was reelected in 2001 and 2005. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners three different times. Prior to his election, he served on the Town’s Economic and Community Development Commission as well as the Greater Bel Air-Forest Hill Community Planning Council, the Harford County Futures Commission, the Harford County Housing Commission and the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
In 2006-07, Commissioner Carey was President of the Maryland Municipal League (MML), the association of Maryland’s 157 cities and towns, and he has served on MML’s Legislative Committee for ten years. He has testified numerous times before both the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates on issues of interest to Maryland’s cities and towns. He also served twice as President of the Cecil-Harford Chapter of MML.
Currently, Commissioner Carey is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Local Government Insurance Trust, a non-profit insurance pool created by the Maryland General Assembly, which provides insurance to local governments. He is also a member of the State’s Task Force on the Future of Growth and Development in Maryland and served on the Planning and Smart Growth Workgroup of Governor O’Malley’s Transition Team.
Commissioner Carey lives in a historic home in Bel Air with his wife, Rachael Rice, and their two Labradors, Max and Augie.
Preston has been rumored to have interest in the Register of Wills position, but another Republican, Derek Hopkins, is already actively campaigning for the position. This leaves Preston in the disadvantaged position of having to campaign for the Bel Air commissioner seat, while watching a possible future opponent charge ahead in the contest for the Register of Wills position.
Robert M. Preston has a long history of dedication and outstanding service to the Bel Air Community; one that encompasses a strong commitment to the well being of the Town of Bel Air, as well as Bel Air High School. A life long resident of the Town of Bel Air, he is the grandson of C. Milton Wright, a former superintendent of Harford County public schools. After graduating from Bel Air High School in 1967, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He returned from service to his Country to join a family office supply business, Bel Air Preston’s Stationery, which has operated in the Bel Air community since 1926.
Mr. Preston has been a member of the Bel Air Rotary Club for 30 years and served as past President; he served 10 years as a member of the Bel Air Planning Commission; and is a Board member of the Historical Society of Harford County. He was elected to the Bel Air Board of Commissioners in November 2002 and 2005 and has served 2 years as Chairman of the Town Board.
Candidates for the Bel Air municipal election have until Oct. 2 to officially register to enter the race and it’s speculated that several more candidates could enter the contest to challenge Carey and Preston for their seats.
What remains to be seen is if Bel Air voters will support their veteran town commissioners’ bid to return to office or if the alleged interest Carey and Preston have in seeking higher political office might sour voters on re-electing them – knowing they might be jumping ship for higher ground just a year from now.
Here is the Town of Bel Air’s official election notice:
ELECTION FOR TOWN OF BEL AIR
CANDIDATE FILING – VOTER REGISTRATION
An election will be held on Tuesday, November 3, 2009. The Town is using the Maryland State Board of Elections approved Diebold Premium TS Election voting units.
All eligible residents of the Town of Bel Air who desire to vote in the Town Election on November 3, 2009 must register (if not previously registered) with the County Board of Elections on or before October 13, 2009. Applications for registration are located at the Harford County Elections Office at 133 Industry Lane, Forest Hill, or the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles at 501 W. MacPhail Road, Bel Air, or at www.harfordcountymd.gov/elections .
Every person who meets all of the following qualifications may vote: 1) is a citizen of the United States; 2) is eighteen (18) years of age or older by the date of the election; 3) has resided within and been a registered voter of the Town of Bel Air for at least twenty-one days preceding any Town election; and 4) is not constitutionally regulated or prohibited by the Annotated Code of Maryland, Title 3 of the Election Law.
Any registered voter of the Town of Bel Air who desires to file as a candidate for Commissioner of Bel Air must have resided in the Town for at least six months immediately preceding the election, in accordance with Article III, Section 302 of the Town Charter.
Should you have any questions relative to the status of your voter registration, call the Harford County Board of Elections, 410-638-3565.
BEL AIR ELECTION DATES
October 2, 2009 – Deadline for filing as candidate for Commissioner of Bel Air. Must file at Town Hall, 39 N. Hickory Avenue, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The filing fee is $25.00.
October 13, 2009- Books close for voter registration at 9 p.m. at the Harford County Board of Elections, 133 Industry Lane, Forest Hill, MD 21050, 410-638-3565.
October 27, 2009- Deadline for receipt of Absentee Voting Applications, if the application is to be mailed. After the deadline, applications must be picked up in person. Ballots must be received and stamped at the Town Hall, 39 N. Hickory Avenue, Bel Air, before the close of the polls on Election Day. Applications are available at the Harford County Board of Elections, 133 Industry Lane, Forest Hill, MD 21050 or by calling 410-638-3565.
November 3, 2009- BEL AIR TOWN ELECTION – Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Bel Air Town Hall, 39 N. Hickory Avenue, Bel Air, Maryland.
Board of Election Judges, Town of Bel Air, Maryland