Mayor, 29, offers advice

April 21, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

The mayoral situation in New Windsor may be unusual, but it is not unique.

Before Matthew Purkins and Jack A. Gullo Jr., the two under-25 contenders for the town's mayoral seat, there was Spencer Schlosnagle.

Mr. Schlosnagle was elected mayor of Friendsville, Garrett County, when he was 21. He was proclaimed by former Gov. Harry Hughes in 1986 to be the youngest person elected as a mayor in Maryland history.

Having been a mayor for the past eight years and a councilman for two years before that, Mr. Schlosnagle said he understands what the two men will face in the weeks before the May 11 election.

"At first, people didn't take me seriously," said Mr. Schlosnagle, now 29. "When I ran for the council, some people had doubts about whether I could do the job because of my age. But, much to even my parents' surprise, I won, and I have been working for the good of the town ever since."

Aside from running the small town of 600 residents, Mr. Schlosnagle works at the reservations desk at Wisp Ski Resort.

He said Friendsville was having problems when he ran for council that are similar to those New Windsor faces.

New Windsor residents have complained about an increase of juvenile crime and the lack of control the town appears to have over its young people.

"We were having some problems with some of the children, and people were asking, 'Why all the kids running the streets?' " Mr. Schlosnagle said. "We had four bars in town and kids were always in there playing pool and things, but what else were they going to do?

"I addressed things like, 'What are we going to do as citizens?' It is necessary for the town to have things for the children to do."

Mr. Schlosnagle said he "ran on the idea" of building a community park in the area that would give people a place to go. He said he also wanted to get the children involved in the process.

"We did things to promote self-confidence, and the people jumped on board," Mr. Schlosnagle said. "We did a little park nTC project where they [children] planted flowers. We made them get involved."

Mr. Schlosnagle believes he has been successful in alleviating the fears of his community that a young person cannot handle the responsibility of public office.

He has advice for Mr. Purkins and Mr. Gullo as they attempt to dispel their town's negative perception of young people in positions of power.

"I'd say, stand for what you believe in," Mr. Schlosnagle said. "People think you are going to say anything to get elected, but say what you believe.

"They [the New Windsor candidates] are running for office, and that's a big step. If you set your mind to it, you can really do these things. You've got to show them you are trying."

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