Jones stresses issues over affiliation Look beyond party lines, Democrat urges voters

October 20, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

As a Democrat running for county commissioner in Republican-dominated Carroll, Perry L. Jones knows he must persuade voters to look beyond party affiliation. He wants voters to consider the man.

Voters will see in Jones an unfailingly polite, reserved, hard-working owner of an auto repair shop. His days zigzag between replacing a fan belt and representing Union Bridge, population 1,000.

Jones, serving his second four-year term as mayor, presides over a town working to pay for its town hall mortgage with fund-raisers, including pancake breakfasts and festivals, rather than through a property tax increase.

The mayor and Town Council have been loath to raise taxes because of the effect on lower-income residents. However, Jones has twice supported property tax increases -- to pay for utility renovations and to compensate for the loss of tax revenue from the town's lone industry, Lehigh Portland Cement Co.

The town's problems include a faded business district that merchants have recently begun trying to revive. Jones began pressing for improvements to the commercial area in 1993. Town officials worked with a county planner to produce a revitalization plan, which was published in 1995.

Regarding county issues, Jones thinks Carroll should impose moratoriums on residential growth in overburdened areas until schools, roads and other services are adequate.

He said Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth initiative to channel growth in and around towns is good for Carroll County.

Jones also favors adoption of the county's master plan, its blueprint to guide growth that was shelved by Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Richard T. Yates last month. The commissioners said the decision should be passed to the next board. Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown opposed the delay.

The master plan would have directed development to designated growth areas, set goals for preserving 100,000 acres of farmland and changed land use on about 200 acres to encourage economic development.

"If the commissioners weren't satisfied with it, that should have been brought up during" work on the plan, Jones said.

Jones opposes the commissioners' proposal to increase impact fees, now $4,487 for a single-family home, by 6 percent. Developers pay impact fees but pass the cost along to buyers. His preferred alternative source of revenue would be to increase the county's industrial base.

"I think the impact fees are high enough for people who are trying to buy houses," he said.

Jones favors increased aid to county schools but would require an accounting of the way the money is spent. He favors more money for supplies, materials, computers and other items students use, but he does not support additional spending for administration.

"There is some fear that too much is being spent on zTC administration and not enough in the classroom," he said.

When Jones ran for mayor in 1991, he endorsed the planned development of the Phillips property, a 120-acre tract where Manchester developer Martin K. P. Hill plans to build 317 single-family and multifamily houses. The subdivision would more than double the town's current 157 housing units.

Jones ran on a platform favoring annexation of the property, which at the time was outside the town limits.

Union Bridge has lost industrial and commercial prospects because its population has remained stagnant for a decade, he said. Businesses and industries look at the stable numbers and choose not to invest in the town.

"It's a big gamble for an industry to want to come to a small town like this," he said.

Jones and his brother, Archer Jones, own Tuck's Chevron Service Station in Union Bridge. Perry began working in the shop at age 13 and joined his father, Perry "Tuck" Jones Sr., in the business after he finished high school.

After his father died in 1980, Perry and his brother took over the business. The Town Council also asked Perry Jones Jr. to finish the year remaining in his father's council term.

One year "was not enough really to get your feet wet" in town government, Jones said. He ran for the council and served 11 years before replacing Mayor Edward L. Williar, who had groomed Jones for the office.

Perry L. Jones Jr.

Age: 46

Residence: Union Bridge

Family: Divorced; one son

Occupation: Owner of Tuck's Chevron Service Station, 48 N. Main St., Union Bridge

Education: Linganore High School, Frederick County, 1970

Political background: Union Bridge Town Council, 1980-1991; mayor, 1991-present

Pub Date: 10/20/98

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