District A lies at a crossroads. Recent violent crimes have been splashed across Dagger headlines, but the promise of BRAC could bring jobs and stability to the area.
Dion Guthrie and John Henkel will square off in the Democratic Primary Election with the winner advancing to face whomever emerges from the Primary Election race between Republican candidates Yvonne Baldwin and Jim Thompson.
The winner of the District A seat will face a sizeable challenge: taking advantage of the coming BRAC changes while continuing efforts to curb local crime. The candidates who have entered the race will be tasked with redefining Edgewood and Joppa’s place in Harford County.
The Dagger caught up with those candidates – Yvonne Baldwin, Dion Guthrie, John Henkel, and Jim Thompson – and posed to them the same set of questions.
Those questions, and the varying answers of the candidates, are listed below:
In one paragraph, please give a brief biographical sketch of yourself:
I am a lifelong resident of Joppatowne and my entire immediate family continues to live in District A. In fact, my daughter and I live in the house where I was raised. After graduating from Towson State, I immediately opened the Silver Spur, which I still own and operate on Route 40 in Joppa. I am also a real estate agent and concentrate my real estate business in this area. I have been fortunate enough to have success in my professional and personal life and I want to be a part of helping others enjoy those same successes. I am proud to say that I’ve lived in Joppatowne for more than 40 years and in 40 years, I want my daughter to be able to say the same.
Dion F. Guthrie – Council member for District A Edgewood, Joppa/Joppatown for the last 8 years, hold B.A. degrees from Antioch University 1998 and McKendree School of Religion, also graduated from the Harford Leadership Academy in 2000, and was honored as one of the top 20 graduates at their recent 20 year anniversary galla. Graduated from the Harford County Sheriff’s Police Academy in 2007, graduated from the academy for Excellence in Local Governance from the University of Maryland 2009, elected as a delegate to the Democratic Convention 2008. I have been a resident of Joppatown for over 44 years and a lifetime member of the ESGR (the National Committee for the Employer support of the Guard and Reserve.)
I’m originally from New York City and relocated to Maryland in 1986. Aside from a brief stint in Fell’s Point (where we met), my wife Lisa is a lifelong Harford County resident (born and raised on Harford Square Drive) and moved here in late 1998. We resided in Edgewood from 1998-2005 and then moved to Joppa. We have two children. Jack is 10 and Abigail is six. We also have three (four-legged) children in Lucky, Piper and Chucho. I have spent the last 15 years working in the music/entertainment industry with a concentration on intellectual property issues and have worked on different pieces of Federal legislation in support of the industry. I was recently elected to my third term as President of the Joppatowne Rec Baseball and Softball program and have volunteered my time as a coach and Board member every year since 2004. Additionally, we’re active as members of the Magnolia Elementary School PTA and my wife devotes a great deal of volunteer time to Trinity Lutheran Church.
For a bio please refer to: http://www.thesagacitypapers.com/take_a_ticket_015.htm
What is at stake for District A (Edgewood/Joppa) in this race?
I honestly believe this election represents an opportunity for our residents to become involved in the decision making processes of the County Council by electing a representative who is ready and willing to have a regular presence and give unrelenting support in all areas of District A.
The Master Plan for Harford County will be on the Councils plate shortly after we take office. Not a place for inexperienced people who two or three months before an election decide they are qualified to hold office. District A is different than any other districts. There are 40,000 people that live in our district and we have no buffer like a Mayor, City Council and a police force like other districts. You need a fully qualified person to hold this office, no room for “on-the-job-training” or a part time Council person. Also we need to stay on top of the waste-to-energy plant. We need to protect this area.
Quite frankly, what is at stake is everyone’s quality of life. We have all been affected in some way by the poor economy which only seems to magnify the problems we’re currently facing. It’s time for a change in direction, a new vision and a fresh perspective on what the people of District A are asking for. We all want the same things. Less crime and safer neighborhoods, a better education for our children and to know that our tax money is being spent as wisely as possible. I take the task of improving our quality of life very seriously.
Please refer to: http://www.ejthompson.com/
What is the biggest NON-CRIME problem in the district, and what would you do to improve the situation?
As a small business owner, I am disappointed in the lack of work to attract more business to our area. We need to project an image of being friendly and welcoming to businesses to attract positive possibilities for the District. BRAC is a big opportunity for Harford County and we must be a part of this growth. Potential new businesses and home buyers want to see a thriving community, not a community that appears to be dwindling. We must project an image that we want and will support small business and growing families.
Transportation, dredging, adequate roads, overcrowding schools and after school activities. We need to improve the bus situation in the Edgewood area and reduce the overcrowding of schools like I have done for the past eight years. My bill that deals with APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) has gone a long way to help that situation. We continued to create after school activities for our youth and will create even more. The dredging in Joppatown is very important. If it is not addressed the basin will fill in causing navigation nightmares. We will be dredging the Joppatown basin this fall and also the creek behind Foster Knoll.
I would be doing this district a disservice by picking one problem over another. Every person I have spoken to about my candidacy has had different issues they wanted to discuss with me ranging from education to taxes to guns to crime. I can say that I will view the County Council position as a partnership between myself and people who live in Edgewood, Joppa and Joppatowne. My success in office will be due to working with the people of this community and discussing how they want their problems addressed and, in some cases, making hard decisions on how to address them. I see my role is to get the broadest possible feedback and support and apply that information without a political agenda.
Same as #2: http://www.ejthompson.com/
Edgewood has been in the news lately with a spate of shootings and the Bel Air murder of a local man, connected to a 2007 beating of the victim’s father in Edgewood. What would you do to combat this ongoing crime problem?
First, I express my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the young man who tragically lost his life. I think the entire County needs to understand that this terrible incident is an example of what happens when people believe crime is isolated. Crime will spread. Crime in any District should be a concern for the entire county and Harford County resources should be utilized to combat crime in our District. I plan to make strong alliances with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. I will partner with the men and woman who are protecting our District to promote communication between law enforcement and citizens. We must also implement programs that encourage our young men and women to be productive members of the community. We can find ways to keep our community on the right track. I aim to rally my constituents to give their time and skills to to make our entire District a safe and pleasant place to live. Individual pride transcends to community pride.
Sheriff Jesse Bane and I have done a lot in recent years and will continue to do more: Brookside Drive, a place that had a lot of crime and murders. It has had all new lighting and cameras installed and have brought crime to its knees in that area. There’s a “spike” right now but Sheriff Bane is right on top of this problem and the President of the Edgewood Community Council Jason [sic] Robinson and I are working on new incentives to keep the kids off the streets.
I strongly believe that we can start to address the resurgence of crime Edgewood by spending more time out and about with the people who live here. They are the ones on the ‘front lines’ so to speak and they are the ones who hold the key to turning their community around. As their representative on the Council, I can help guide them and work with law enforcement and other government officials to help implement the best strategies and resources but the community should absolutely have a voice in how that moves forward and not simply have decisions dictated to them.
Jobs, jobs and more jobs. High employment rates = low crime rates – it’s a proven fact. We need to bring more jobs to the Route 40 corridor!