Young candidates liven mayoral race NORTHWEST--Taneytown * Union Bridge * New Windsor * Uniontown

May 07, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

So how much can 18-year-old Matthew Purkins and 24-year-old Jack A. Gullo Jr. know about leading New Windsor's town government?

Skeptical residents may be surprised by the extent of each man's knowledge if they attend tonight's Candidates Forum sponsored by the county League of Women Voters.

The campaigns for the two New Windsor Town Council seats have been relatively uneventful. Rebecca H. Harman is running for re-election; James C. Carlisle wants to return to a council position after a four-year absence; and Paul G. Garver is contending for the first time.

But for Mr. Gullo and Mr. Purkins, the forum may prove to be less a debate against one another than a battle to earn the respect of citizens who would be their constituents.

Mr. Purkins has approached his candidacy for mayor with a determination to right wrongs.

"I have already started reading the town ordinance book and making notes about things I have seen that are blatant abuses of the law," said Mr. Purkins. "For example, housing. Houses need to be inhabitable, and there are certain residences in town that are not."

Mr. Gullo has taken a more hands-on approach to his campaign, spending his free time canvassing the town and talking with residents.

"You can read all the manuals you want, try to get the ministerial parts of it down, but to properly serve the people, you have to get to know the people," Mr. Gullo said.

Both men are very aware of burgeoning growth and an uncertain future for the town.

"Change isn't something the residents want, but it is something that's going to happen," said Mr. Purkins.

"The growth has got to be controlled in the future. This town was not prepared to deal with that kind of growth," he said. "There has to be some control, maybe even to stopping the growth.

"One thing we could do is to buy up farmland around the town to produce a sort of a buffer to development. Make sure things don't get out of hand."

Mr. Gullo takes a different approach.

"The people in town want to preserve what they have, and I think that's a good attitude, but I'd like to make sure it doesn't become isolationist," Mr. Gullo said. "We need to keep an eye on the future so it doesn't sneak up on us."

Both men are aware that people are concerned about their youth. They know people feel the mayor has no power; but they said they see the position as a way to effect change even without the power to vote.

"The mayor is able to propose things and to lead, but most importantly he has to be able to persuade," said Mr. Gullo. "The mayor needs to be able to persuade the council that something should be done or not be done for the good of the town," he said.

"Some people think the mayor's job is just there, but this is a very important job," Mr. Purkins said. "All someone has to do is tell me there is a problem, and I will make sure there is something done about it."

Both men are aware of rumors suggesting residents will write in a candidate they feel is more qualified.

Neal C. Roop, a former councilman, has been mentioned in the write-in rumors. He said people in town had told him they would write in his name, but he was not interested in the job.

"It's only a rumor. They are looking at me, but I'm not looking back at them," said Mr. Roop, 35, who owns and operates Roop's Grocery. "I had considered the job at one time, but I work about 65 to 70 hours at the store. I sometimes think that's not enough."

Mr. Roop said some people were still going to write his name on the ballot, but he didn't know what he would do if he won the election.

"I will cross that bridge when I come to it," he said.

Town Clerk/Treasurer Richard Warehime said some residents would not be voting Tuesday because of Mr. Gullo's and Mr. Purkins' candidacies.

"There is a general lack of interest in the election because of the two young candidates," said Mr. Warehime. "I'm looking for a low turnout."

Mr. Warehime said there are about 330 registered voters in New Windsor.

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