2023 Candidate Questionnaire: Donna Kasnic For Havre De Grace City Council


Credit: Donna Kasnic

HAVRE DE GRACE - The Havre de Grace Patch asked Donna Kasnic about her history, why she is running for office, and her positions on local issues. 

Below are Kasnic's responses to our candidate questionnaire.

What is the primary reason you are running for this office?

"I chose to run for several reasons. I believe citizen involvement and diversity are two of the most important things for keeping a democracy functioning well. While I am generally happy with the direction that Havre de Grace has taken in the years that I have lived here, I am beginning to see some fault lines forming regarding legacy residents and families and those they perceive as 'newcomers.' With better communication and outreach, we can ease conflict, building a stronger community by building relationships."

"While the downtown revitalization project will be wonderful for Havre de Grace, I know that some people feel left out of the process, and there definitely will be some "bumps in the road" while the project is being carried out. I think I can help build bridges and develop creative strategies to help keep businesses functioning and maintain citizen access to our city amenities during this time of transition."

What will be your single most important priority if you get elected?

"My most important priority, if elected, will be to provide outreach for disenfranchised citizens. Helping people to take ownership of their community will result in untapped potential being released, leading to a better future for Havre de Grace. There are groups of people who are very concerned about issues such as parking downtown, affordable housing, and opportunities for youth, who I'm sure have many ideas to share that will help move us forward."

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

"I have been an educator for nearly 30 years and have worked with students from preschool through 8th grade. My ability to engage with the youth of the city and their families will help solve some of the problems facing us now and in the future. People sometimes underestimate teachers and the skills they develop in this challenging vocation. It helps you develop leadership and problem-solving skills that are applicable to other areas, especially public service. I have been inspired by the likes of Jacob Bennett and Bill Martin, leaders who continue successfully navigating teaching careers while serving their communities."

Where do you work, and what is your job title?

"I am completing my 25th year with Harford County Public Schools. My current position is as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. This is a student-facing position, and I work directly with higher-ability students in grades 3-5. I am a generalist, so I teach reading, math, and STEM subjects. My students work with computer coding and robotics, and I have often worked with groups of students on learning to solve environmental issues in their communities. I see the power of what young people can accomplish when they are motivated and given access to resources. These skills and experiences of mine translate directly to helping the youth of Havre de Grace take ownership of their community."

What is your age and birthplace? Other family information you'd like to share?

"I am 53 years old and was born and raised in Baltimore, spending summers in the Bowleys Quarters area of Baltimore County, where I developed a love of the water that is partially responsible for bringing me to Havre de Grace. Our proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and the Susquehanna River makes this an ideal place."

"My husband and I have been married for nearly 13 years and live in downtown Havre de Grace with our dog, Dexter. We have a large extended family, most of whom reside in Harford County."

Please list the schools and colleges you attended, the degrees you attained, and when.

"After graduating from Mercy High School in Baltimore in 1987, I attended Towson University (TSU at the time), earning a Bachelor's in Psychology (1991). I returned to school to earn my teaching certification and later my Master's in Leadership in Teaching from Notre Dame of Maryland University (2006). I have recently completed 60 credits beyond my Masters's degree in various subjects, including gifted education, environmental education, and diversity in teaching."

Approximately how much money do you expect to spend on your campaign?

"Since my husband and I are self-funding the campaign, we rely mostly on grassroots efforts and social media to spread our message. We invested in some signs and some materials for election day. In all, probably between $300-400."

How long have you lived in Havre de Grace?

"We have lived in Havre de Grace for 14 years. We moved here in 2009 and got married at the lighthouse in 2010. Our reception was at the Decoy Museum."

What's your favorite thing about Havre de Grace?

"I love the people of Havre de Grace. I love how we can come together on a First Friday, at a festival or the farmer's market, and we aren't divided by our differences but unified by our commonality in desiring what is best for our community. When walking in Concord Park and the Promenade or downtown, you pass so many different people, and everyone is friendly and enjoying what Havre de Grace has to offer."

What is the biggest issue facing Havre de Grace?

"The continuing growth of our city presents immense opportunity and challenge. We want new development without gentrifying to the point of forcing our legacy residents away. To maintain our diverse and welcoming community, we need to continue supporting initiatives like Blenheim Run and Somerset Manor, single-family housing in the city proper, and developments like Bulle Rock. This requires supporting such a vision with prudent municipal decision-making. With the growth of population, our infrastructure will need to accommodate increased demands while ensuring we are good stewards of the Bay. From sewerage to parking, to street maintenance, to greenspace, our challenge is to keep the characteristics making our small town special while supporting sustainable growth."

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