Haifley declines to run for Westminster mayor

April 08, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Contributing Writer

Westminster City Council President William F. Haifley said yesterday that he will not run for mayor or any other office in the May 10 election.

Mr. Haifley's announcement at City Hall included an ardent attack on Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, who said minutes later that he had filed to run for a second four-year term.

Mr. Haifley, an eight-year councilman who had been widely rumored as a possible mayoral candidate, said in prepared remarks, "It would be an improvement in city government if Mayor Brown were out of office."

The council president vowed he would "wholeheartedly encourage anyone [else] who feels he can hold the job to run for mayor, and I would help that person get elected."

"The past four years on the council have been probably the most trying years I have ever experienced, next to my service in the Korean War," Mr. Haifley said. "It is almost needless to say that the present leadership of the city of Westminster has disturbed me for quite some time. I, like many other people, feel a change is needed."

Mr. Brown, in announcing his candidacy, proposed a platform that included returning the mayor's job to an "eminent role in city government" as guaranteed by the City Code, continuing open government in Westminster, reducing taxes and finding effective ways to restrict growth.

"If I don't do what I say I'm going to do, then judge me by my record," the mayor said. "I kept my promises. . . . This job has given me great satisfaction."

Mr. Haifley, who has been council president since 1991, said, "It has been a very difficult experience attempting to maintain reasonable balance between the legislative and executive branches of city government.

"Also, it has become increasingly clear to me during the past two years that the present council does not want a conservative, common-sense and fiscally responsible council president to lead them in legislative matters. I, therefore, will not run again for City Council."

Mr. Haifley began reading his statement in the council chamber as the bell at the Westminster firehouse began to strike 10 a.m. He said running for office again "would be very demanding on my life" because of the conflict between the long hours he spends on council work and family concerns.

"After much prayer and seeking advice, I definitely feel the Lord has shown me that at this time of my life there are other things for me to pursue. Therefore, I choose not to run for elected office in 1993," he said.

"I have no political aspirations for higher office," Mr. Haifley said.

Mr. Brown said he felt "a sense of sadness" because he and Mr. Haifley "couldn't work things out together" but that the council president's disgruntlement was "of no concern to me."

"I applaud his eight years of service to Westminster, and I hope that someday we can find some common ground. I wasn't anticipating his decision not to run," the mayor said.

"The Westminster City Code says the mayor speaks for the people," he said. "It's absolutely important for a mayor to go toe-to-toe with the council. Let's bring government out of the back rooms and closed doors."

Commenting on the council's gridlock years ago over a property tax cut, Mr. Brown said, "We were able to get the tax rate reduced from 91 cents to 83 cents and, in spite of two bad recession years, we haven't had to cut services."

Looking forward to another possible term and watching out for the city's interests in Annapolis and Carroll County, Mr. Brown vowed to "keep on yelling loudly, because if you don't people won't take you seriously, and if you're not there when the cards are dealt you will most certainly get the short end of the stick."

"I want to serve four years as mayor of Westminster, and I'm proud of the job I've done," he said.

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