Cassilly Urges Review Of Councilman's Eligibility Amid Sheriff's Deputy Appointment


Earlier this year, the Maryland Supreme Court [pictured] ruled that section 207 of the Harford County Charter does not prevent specific public employees from serving on the county council. (Image Credit: Google/ Google Maps)

HARFORD COUNTY - Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly has questioned the eligibility of Councilman Aaron Penman to serve on the County Council due to his new role as a Harford County sheriff's deputy.

Cassilly expressed his concerns in a letter to Council President Patrick Vincenti, indicating that the double role Penman now holds contravenes Section 207 of the Harford County Charter. The relevant passage restricts council members from holding simultaneous positions in the state or county governments.

Cassilly's letter emphasized that the Harford County sheriff's position is recognized as a state office, and, as such, he is urging the County Council to review Penman's eligibility to serve on the council.

"The office of the Harford County sheriff is a state office," Cassilly wrote. "I therefore call upon the County Council to take immediate action to remove Councilman Penman from his membership on the Harford County Council, as he no longer meets the requirements for that public office."

The county executive raised similar concerns following the election of Harford County Councilman Jacob Bennett, who serves as a teacher for Harford County Public Schools. The issue was eventually resolved in the Maryland Supreme Court, which confirmed that Bennett's dual roles did not violate the charter.

"Neither Section 207 of the Harford County Charter nor the doctrine of incompatible positions precludes Mr. Bennett from serving as a member of the Harford County Council while simultaneously being employed as a teacher by the Harford County Board of Education," the court wrote in its decision.

The Harford County Sheriff's office announced that following a review of the court's full written opinion released on August 30, Sheriff Gahler determined that Penman's separation from the agency was unnecessary, as the Sheriff's Office also falls outside the purview of State and County agencies.

"The taxpayers of Harford County have invested greatly in Sgt. Penman over the course of his career and returning his experience and skills to the Sheriff's Office's ranks is a benefit to public safety in our County," Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler said.

In its opinion, the Maryland Supreme Court explicitly included the sheriff's office as an exception to Section 207.

"Among the non-county agencies that receive funding from the county, as approved by the council, are the sheriff and sheriff's office, the Harford County Health Department, Circuit Court personnel, State's Attorney's Office personnel and the Harford Soil Conservation District," the court wrote.

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