Cassily Files Official Complaint Against Bennett
HAVRE DE GRACE - A Harford County Circuit Court will now decide the future of newly elected County Councilman Jacob Bennett.
On Thursday, Harford County Executive Bob Cassily filed a complaint in the circuit court against Bennett, claiming he cannot simultaneously serve as a county councilman and Harford County public school teacher.
The controversy started when Cassily barred Bennett from the swearing-in ceremony last week. Instead, Bennet was sworn in at a private ceremony.
Cassily has contended that Bennett's job as a public school teacher violates section 207 of the Harford County Charter, which bans state or county employees from serving on the council.
The relevant passage in Section 207 states:
"During the term of office, the Council member shall not hold any other office of profit or employment in the government of the State of Maryland, Harford County, or any municipality within Harford County, except a position held by virtue of being a Council member."
Cassily's official complaint requests that Bennett either be forced to leave his day job or be removed from the county council. Cassily believes that Bennet's role as an employee of the public school system would prevent him from providing unbiased oversight of HCPS.
Bennett has sought legal counsel on the matter and has stated that it is not new or unusual for a county council member to be a public school teacher.
Bennett's lawyer issued a statement saying that public school teachers are distinct from other county and state employees.
"The County Council does not employ teachers, it does not set their salaries and does not set their terms of employment. That is done by the School Board. There is no legal reason at all why Jacob would, in order to serve the citizens of his district, be required to abandon his livelihood and to abandon the children that he has been teaching since the beginning of the school year."
Cassily's complaint will accelerate the timeline for deciding this issue. Once a judge hears the complaint, it will be formally declared whether or not Bennet will have to leave his job or give up his hard-won seat on the council.
The County Council will host its next meeting on Tuesday, December 13th.