What do you consider the greatest accomplishments and failings of the Glassman administration?
Wagner: The Glassman administration has maintained adequate funding for education and public safety during the past four years. Our triple A bond rating has continued. While well-intentioned, I do not believe the county’s outsourcing efforts have actually realized the cost savings that were anticipated. As prescribed by the charter, there needs to be a check and balance system between the legislative and executive branch. The council has relinquished some of the needed authority to accomplish this. Credit and blame are due both branches for accomplishments and failures. We, the citizens of the county achieve a better “end product” when the county government works as the charter called for.
Does Harford County have adequate resources to meet its needs, particularly in the funding of public schools and law enforcement?
Wagner: Presently, I believe the county does have adequate resources to achieve meeting the needs of our public schools and law enforcement. Future needs will require more manpower and funding as our population grows and needs increase and change. Our drug and crime issues will demand more officers and correctional employees. School funding will need more money to maintain a safe environment for our children.
Have the county’s land use policies adequately balanced growth and the preservation of existing communities and agricultural land?
Wagner: Overall, our land use policies are balanced with preservation of existing communities and agricultural land. The comprehensive land use plan sets the guidelines for this balance in our vision for the future. I believe we can do better if we take a more extensive view of how we would like the county to grow and learn from our mistakes of the past. I have seen too many times, what was planned and approved takes on a whole new look upon completion. There were some issues in the past comprehensive review that I was not in agreement with, that were in contrast with the balance between existing communities and ag land usages. I would look forward to discussions of longer range planning and creating an environment here that provides job opportunities and a county that our children and grandchildren might want to continue to live and call “home”.
How do you rate the county’s efforts to fight opioid addiction overdoses? What else, if anything, should the county be doing to combat the epidemic?
Wagner: I feel the Sheriff and County Executive have done a commendable job of addressing the opioid crisis. This epidemic exploded much faster than anyone could have predicted and was prepared for. Education and the revisiting of mental health and addiction programs will be needed to keep pace with the rising needs of our population that is affected by this.
How would you characterize the relationship between the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and the communities it serves? Are any reforms necessary?
Wagner: The Sheriff and his office have done an excellent job addressing the community issues, being involved with various communities and identifying problem areas and taking appropriate action. Presently, I am satisfied with the superior work that is being performed by this office.
The Glassman administration is trying to lead Harford County’s formerly all-volunteer fire and emergency medical services to more a professional organization with more paid personnel. How do you rate the county’s effort and what should have or could have done differently in this controversial transformation?
Wagner: This issue has been on and off the table for discussion for more than 25 years. The volunteer service we enjoy has always performed an extraordinary job for Harford County throughout the years and continues to do so. The expenses associated with any transformation to a more “professional service” will be astronomical. Throughout the discussion and planning phases of this concept, I would have liked more transparency and public involvement. The growth in our county, the lack of available time people have for education and to volunteer for fire and emergency medical service are no doubt factors that make us look at options. Transitioning will not be easy and it will become evident very quickly how much Harford County has been blessed over the years to have enjoyed the excellent volunteer service of our citizens who have provided these services for us all. Dedication doesn’t come with a price.