Three vie for 2 seats on City Council Westminster mayoral contest awaits entrants CENTRAL -- Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg

April 05, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Three candidates will compete for two open City Council seats in Westminster's May 10 election, but the vacancy in the mayor's office has not yet lured even one acknowledged candidate.

The council race may attract at least one other candidate before the April 12 filing deadline. The four-year terms of Council President William F. Haifley and Councilman Edward S. Calwell expire this year.

In the mayoral election, incumbent W. Benjamin Brown is widely expected to seek a second term, although he declined to confirm his plans publicly last week.

Whether Mr. Brown faces opposition may depend on Mr. Haifley, who is believed to be interested in the mayor's office but is keeping quiet about his intentions. Mr. Haifley also could opt to run for re-election to the council or retire.

Council candidates who have filed in the nonpartisan election are Mr. Calwell, 48, of East Green Street, a systems analyst with the National Institutes of Health; Dennis E. Frazier, 36, of The Greens, a physical education teacher and wrestling coach; and Damian L. Halstad, 31, an attorney who lives on Lincoln Road.

William F. Dixon, 52, of Charles Street, said he is "strongly considering" seeking a council seat. But he had not made a decision as of last week.

Larry Wiskeman, a Middlebrooke resident and member of the city planning commission, squelched rumors that he might enter the council race.

"Somebody just started rumors about me," he said.

This year's municipal election will be the first in which Westminster's approximately 6,000 registered voters have two polling places.

Voters in Precinct 1, east of Route 31, will use the fire hall. Those in Precinct 2, west of Route 31, will vote at Meadow Branch Church of the Brethren.

Mr. Calwell, who ran unopposed in the 1989 council election, spent some time in recent weeks sounding out residents before deciding to seek a second term.

"I was trying to get an idea of whether I had accomplished enough and represented them well enough to try for another four years," he said.

Encouraged by the results of his straw poll, Mr. Calwell said he wants to work on two major issues if he wins re-election: ensuring that the city has adequate water supplies and continuing to control population growth.

He cited as an example of growth controls a 1990 amendment to the city zoning ordinance that eliminated some high density zoning on large tracts and increased open space requirements, from 10 percent to 20 percent, in subdivisions that mix single and multifamily housing.

Mr. Calwell and his wife, Wanda, have two sons, Eddie, 15, and Jeff, 13.

Mr. Frazier, who lost his first council race by 50 votes in 1991, took that defeat hard. But he said he wanted to give it one more try because he had a lot of strong support in his first effort.

Mr. Frazier said he remains concerned about school crowding, as he was in 1991.

The opening of Friendship Valley Elementary School eased crowding at Westminster Elementary, but Mr. Frazier said he fears the relief is temporary.

"There has to be a vision, and the vision can't exceed the services that are around. It can't exceed the schools, it can't exceed the fire [service] . . . the police," he said.

Mr. Frazier said he also would like to continue government environmental efforts. He applauded the city's recycling program and said he doesn't want to stand still on environmental issues.

Mr. Frazier and his wife, Debbie, have two children, Christopher, 8, and Sarah, 7 months.

Mr. Halstad, making his first try for city office, said he sees downtown revitalization as "the major issue." He wants to see a privately financed economic advisory council that would "bring city leaders under one roof."

He said the lack of parking, a major issue in discussions of the downtown business district, still draws complaints from residents he meets as he campaigns.

Mr. Halstad said would like to see a permanent home for the arts "so long as it doesn't cost us money," and possibly a train station downtown.

He said he isn't suggesting building one immediately. He just wants to study the feasibility.

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