What do you consider the greatest accomplishments and failings of the Glassman administration?
Jahnigen: I commend the Glassman Administration for all their hard work and efforts to make Harford County a great place to live, work and raise a family. I am glad that the administration was able to give long overdue pay raises to teachers. I also am glad that his administration has worked to develop online communication tools and apps for convenient access to information. Some areas of focus I would like to see are: Advocacy for more state funding for Harford County Public Schools, we are ranked 23 out of 24 public school systems in Maryland in terms of per pupil funding, and with the pending closing of Union Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, we need to advocate for a full service hospital replacement. Our county continues to grow and would greatly benefit from two full service hospitals to care for our residents.
Does Harford County have adequate resources to meet its needs, particularly in the funding of public schools and law enforcement?
Jahnigen: No, we need more funding to keep good teachers and police officers. We are losing great teachers to surrounding counties because the pay is better. We need to continue to increase teacher salaries to keep our amazing Harford County Teachers. We need to grow our law enforcement in the county to help combat the issues with the Opioid Crisis. Sheriff Gahler and his team have done an amazing job keeping our county safe, but with more funding they could do more to ensure safety for everyone. We also have a lot of aging school facilities and we need to work to update them to be safer and more up to date for our youth.
Have the county’s land use policies adequately balanced growth and the preservation of existing communities and agricultural land?
Jahnigen: In some cases yes, in others no. Harford County is a great mix of thriving communities and agricultural land; we need to keep it that way. I was born and raised in Harford County and have always appreciated its agricultural heritage. Development and growth are good for the county but we have to be proactive about land use instead of reactive and we need to make sure when Community Input meetings are held that the community input is taken into account when making approval decisions. I am a proponent of SMART Development. By that I mean, we need to build in the required infrastructure prior to developing. This means creating the necessary roads and improvements to minimize impacts on traffic, safety and access to local businesses during and after development. The county needs to look at alternative ways to keep roads open while doing construction so that building something like a roundabout does not cause undue hardship to small businesses while construction is going on. Cecil and Baltimore Counties have done this successfully, Harford needs to follow suit.
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?
Jahnigen: It is sad to see the overdoses and death numbers rise. I think awareness is important and making sure the stigma of addiction is removed – it crosses all socio-economic groups. We need to stop the cycle of despair. Public awareness and drug take back days need to increase and we need to do more to teach our youth about the dangers of opioids and other gateway drugs.
How would you characterize the relationship between the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and the communities it serves? Are any reforms necessary?
Jahnigen: Sheriff Gahler and his staff have done a fantastic job of protecting Harford County. I will never forget the day the 2 deputies that gave the ultimate sacrifice protecting local citizens in the Abingdon Panera, as it was my twins 8th birthday. Those men are heroes as are the men and women that put on a uniform every day to protect our county. I think there is a very healthy relationship and one of mutual respect between the Sheriff’s Office and the communities they serve. We need to continue to assess day to day the needs of our citizens and keep them safe.
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?
Jahnigen: The county has two paid ambulances in service and I think that it is a fantastic idea to have paid paramedics in the county. We have trained, dedicated citizens that are going to other municipalities to serve so that they can support their family by getting a salary and benefits. Having paid positions will keep the talent here in the county and will be a great partnership with the volunteers that we have.