Harry A. Hepbron, a former vice-president of the Cecil County Board of Commissioners, has filed his candidacy to run again for a seat on the Cecil County Board, according to state Election Board records.
Hepbron, a long-time farmer and owner of the Dove Valley Vineyards and Winery in Rising Sun, filed as a Republican candidate for the 3rd District County Commissioner’s seat on Tuesday, June 29, according to state election board records. Hepbron served two terms on the county Board before being defeated for re-election in 2006 by Democrat Brian Lockhart, who is currently the President of the County Board of Commissioners. Lockhart was scheduled to file for re-election on Wednesday, June 30.
In an interview with The Cecil Times, Hepbron said he decided to run again for Commissioner because of his concerns about “wrong turns” taken by the county board in the past four years. He said his top priorities for the county were “jobs, jobs, jobs” as well as economic development initiatives and support of education programs. He said the current Board had failed to pursue economic development opportunities and had become bogged down in partisan infighting.
“I don’t care if an employer is a Democrat or a Republican,” Hepbron said. “As long as a business is willing to locate in Cecil County and employ our citizens, that is fine with me.”
Hepbron also said he strongly opposed what he called “the trash tax”– a new fee imposed by the county Commissioners for people who recycle soda cans, plastics and similar items. Such recyclables were previously allowed to be deposited at county landfill and trash transfer stations for free. Hepbron noted that he appeared at a county Commissioners meeting several months ago and strongly opposed the “trash tax.” He said he helped initiate a single-stream recycling program as a Commissioner and opposed the current Board’s abandonment of support for that enviromentally important program.
“I’m a farmer, vineyard operator and winery owner,” Hepbron said. “It is really important to our local economy and environment to support recycling and environmentally responsible programs.”
Hepbron said that a top priority would be promoting “value-added agriculture” and related tourism opportunities in the county, including more wineries and a potential new beer micro-brewery industry. “Agriculture is a key part of our county’s economy and tourism is an important growth area,” Hepbron said. “Let’s put the two of them together for a new economic development initiative.”
While a commissioner, Hepbron drew fire from some anti-growth activists. In response, Hepbron said recently that he respected the concerns of such groups and would like to meet with them to address their current concerns.
During his past service on the board of Commissioners, Hepbron was accused of conflict of interest because his family-owned vending company had past contracts, signed before he was a Commissioner, for vending machines located in county-owned buildings. Hepbron cited records showing he had recused himself, and walked out of the Commissioners’ board room, whenever any discussion of vending machines occurred. The vending machine company operated by his son and other familiy members currently has no contracts with the county government, Hepbron said.
The former county commissioner said he was gratified by the many county residents who have asked him to run again for Commissioner. “Wherever I go, people ask me to run again,” Hepbron said. “I am grateful for the support of Cecil County residents,” he added.
Hepbron will face a challenger in the Republican primary, Ted Kolodzey, an employee of a local gym mat company, a political newcomer and member of the local “Young Republicans” club that is fielding candidates in all three Commissioner races on the ballot this year.