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Running for public office in Harford County means negotiating numerous state and county rules on everything from eligibility, literature and signs to finance and public electioneering.

This year’s ballot for county and state offices will also be more crowded as some Harford County Board of Education members will be elected for the first time ever.

With this in mind, the county Board of Elections is holding a series of workshops for prospective candidates, the first of which was Wednesday evening at the board’s Forest Hill office.

About a dozen potential candidates attended, including County Councilman Joe Woods, a Fallston Republican. Woods, who was appointed to the council last year following the death of longtime council member Roni Chenowith, is facing his first election.

Others who came for the briefing, where they received a well organized information binder, included two prospective candidates for register of wills, Bel Air Commissioner Robert Preston and Bill Schilling of Forest Hill.

Kim Atkins, county election supervisor, said the election office will try to schedule candidate workshops at least once a month before the filing deadline at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 6.

“We deal sometimes with over 200 candidates who show interest or file and I’m repeating information,” Atkins said. “It’s more efficient to put it in a class setting. It also gives them an opportunity to ask questions.”

The next candidate information session will be held Saturday, March 13, from 10 a.m. until noon at the county election office, located at 133 Industry Lane in Forest Hill.

Atkins said the purpose of the workshop is to be more efficient with getting information out and explaining election laws.

“It’s important for them to know what’s available to them and giving them resources,” she said.

Candidates for county offices must file in person at the county election office. But candidates for state offices, such as sheriff, register of wills and clerk of the circuit court, must file at the State Board of Elections in Annapolis.

Filing fees, which vary according to office, must be paid by check or cash at the time of filing a certificate of candidacy. Candidates must also bring official identification.

This year’s first ever election for school board will involve members to represent county council districts A - Joppatowne and Edgewood, B - Fallston and Abingdon, and D - the northern tier. The first three elected members will take office in July 2011.

Under the elected board state legislation passed last year, Harford’s school board will lose four members in 2011 — Don Osman, Thomas Evans, John Smilko and either Mark Wolkow or Robin Rich. In addition to the three members elected in November, two others will be appointed by the governor at-large with no geographic requirements. The law also expanded the board from seven to nine members.

Once the law is fully implemented, the governor will continue to appoint three members, but county residents will elect the other six members. The full six will be elected in 2014.

The school board elections are nonpartisan. The fee to file as a candidate is $25.

If more than two candidates file for a single school board seat, they will run in the primary election. The top two vote-getters in each district from the primary will move on to the general election in November.

Although Maryland has closed Democratic and Republic primary elections, all voters will be able to cast ballots in the school board primary.

In addition to Saturday’s workshop, other workshops are scheduled for Tuesday, April 6 and Saturday, April 10.


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