Bryna Zumer and David Anderson
Republican Barry Glassman took a quick and commanding lead in his bid to become Harford County’s next county executive as early general election returns began to trickle in Tuesday. By 9:30 p.m., he declared victory.
Harford also is getting a new sheriff, as Republican challenger Jeffrey Gahler knocked off two-term Democratic incumbent Sheriff Jesse Bane.
Republicans appeared headed for a sweep of all seven county council seats for only the second time since the council was established in 1972.
Harford also went big for Republican Larry Hogan in the governor’s race, giving him almost 77 percent of the vote over Democrat Anthony Brown, as Hogan appeared to inch closer to victory late Tuesday night.
GOP ‘lambs running wild’
Glassman, 52, a Darlington resident, who has been a state legislator for the past 16 years and a County Council member for eight years before that, was expected to win easily in his bid to succeed fellow Republican David Craig, who has served as county executive since 2005 and this year made an unsuccessful bid for governor. Joseph Werner, 54, of Bel Air, the Democratic nominee for county executive, was running for office for the first time.
Glassman’s campaign leaders set up an elaborate celebration area at the Bel Air Reckord Armory, where many community members, residents and supporters gathered to wait for results Tuesday evening.
With early returns showing him leading 75-25 percent, he gave a victory speech.
“It looks like the Republican lambs are running wild in Harford County tonight,” said Glassman, who has a small sheep farm and had campaign signs shaped and painted like lambs.
“It’s been 30 years and I have come full circle,” Glassman said, talking briefly about his political career. “Because of you and my dedicated family, I stand here as your next county executive.”
Glassman said he is ready to “hit the ground running,” and would be setting up a transition team Wednesday.
Quoting Martin Luther King Jr., he said: “We don’t always get to pick when we lead, but I can tell you tonight I’m ready to lead this county and we’re going to move it forward.”
“We live in a great country and we’re going to make this a great county,” Glassman said, listing commitment to public safety, job creation, schools, business and protecting the rural heritage.
An hour and half after the victory speech, Glassman’s lead held, and with all precincts reporting, except absentee and provisional ballots to be counted over the next two weeks, he polled 64,500 votes to 21,600 for Werner.
Werner said he was shocked and disappointed by Glassman’s large and growing lead.
“I didn’t think he was going to run away with it,” Werner said. “I guess it was a Republican year and Barry did a great job.”
Gahler led Bane by almost 11,000 votes, in a reversal from 2010, when Bane defeated Gahler to win a second term as Harford’s de facto police chief.
Gahler had almost 48,700 votes to 38,000 for Bane, almost 57 percent to 43 percent.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Gahler said. “It’s not only a win, but it’s an overwhelming win.”
He said it has been “a seven-year effort” by him and his supporters to become sheriff.
“I think it shows people were ready for a change in the Sheriff’s Office, and were going to bring that change in December,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, Bane gathered with supporters at Enotria Italian restaurant in Forest Hill and said he had been “talking to people, eating and reading.”
He said his campaign volunteers who were at the polls were “very excited about the response they got as people were driving by.”
“I ran a clean campaign,” he said. “I’m pleased with the way the campaign went. I’m very proud of my volunteers.”
Harford voters also filled seats on the seven-member County Council, although two incumbents, Republicans Joe Woods and Chad Shrodes, who represent the Fallston-Abingdon and north county areas, respectively, did not have general election opponents.
There were open seats in three of the other races, including for the council presidency, where veteran council member Republican Richard Slutzky was expected to win, and, like Glassman, got out to an early lead over Democratic nominee James Thornton, a school board member. Thornton, who was losing by a two to one margin, conceded at about 10:30 p.m.
“The numbers would indicate that the voters have made a decision that Richard Slutzky is council president and I have to respect that,” Thornton said.
In other council races, incumbent Jim McMahan was well ahead on his way to a third term representing the Bel Air area. McMahan, a Republican, led with 70 percent of the vote over Democrat Gina Kazimir.
But the other council incumbent, Dion Guthrie, a Democrat bidding for a fourth term representing the Joppatowne and Edgewood areas, was trailing Republican Mike Perrone Jr. by 295 votes, leaving the absentee and provisional ballot count to determine the outcome.
In the contest for the open Aberdeen-area seat, Republican Patrick Vincenti beat Democrat Barbara Kreamer by a three to one margin, while Republican Curtis Beulah won by nearly 2,600 votes over Democrat Joseph Smith for the Havre de Grace area seat.
Beulah will become only the second African-American member of the county council.
The mood was somber among Democratic candidates and their supporters who gathered at Belissimo in Bel Air.
Russell Kovach, a volunteer for Thornton’s council president campaign and chairman of the Harford County Democratic Central Committee, called the incoming results astounding.
“How can we turn our backs on such a qualified candidate?” he asked as Slutzky pulled ahead of Thornton.
Democratic candidates, including those in the general election and others who were defeated during the June primary, discussed the results and debated whether more campaigning in critical precincts would have made a difference.
Veteran State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly, a Republican, easily beat his Democratic challenger, Steve Trostle. Cassilly, with almost 73 percent of the vote, won a record ninth term and led an unprecedented sweep by the three Cassilly brothers on Tuesday’s ballot.
Robert Cassilly defeated Democrat Mary-Dulany James 55 to 43 percent for the District 34 State Senate seat representing southern Harford and Bel Air, while Andrew Cassilly was an easy winner of one of two House of Delegates seats in northern Harford District 35B.
In other legislative races, Republican Teresa Reilly took the other delegate seat in 35B and Republican Wayne Norman easily won the District 35 Senate seat being vacated by Glassman.
Incumbent Republican Del. Susan McComas was also an easy winner of a fourth term, beating Democrat Cassandra Beverley in Bel Air and Abingdon District 34B.
In the southern Harford District 34A, incumbent Republican Delegate Glen Glass won a second term. Democrat Mary Ann Lisanti won the second seat, her party’s only apparent victor on Tuesday.
Western Harford District 7 incumbents Sen. J.B. Jennings and Dels. Rick Impallaria, Pat McDonough and Kathy Seliga were all easily re-elected to new terms.
Clerk of the Court Jim Reilly won his fourth term, while Derek Hopkins, unopposed for a second term, was Tuesday’s ballot topper in Harford, garnering 74,079 votes. Circuit Court Judge Yolanda Curtin was unopposed and elected to a full 15-year term.
County voters for the first time also filled all six elected seats on the nine-member school board.
The winners by county council district were Jansen Robinson, District A; incumbent Robert Frisch, District B; incumbent Nancy Reynolds, District D; Rachel Gauthier in District E and incumbent Thomas Fitzpatrick in District F.
In District C, Joseph Voskuhl led incumbent Alysson Krchnavy by 64 votes; too close to call.
The rate of voting varied across the county throughout the day, but by 8 p.m., people were still waiting in line to vote at several polling places, a county election official said.
“It’s been very, very busy, and I think we had a real good turnout, especially when compared to the primary,” Dale Livingston, Harford’s deputy elections director, said. “Tonight was crazy. We had lines out the door.”