Taneytown's likely mayor-to-be not done running

Only candidate on ballot Monday presses campaign

April 30, 1999|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Taneytown mayoral hopeful Henry C. Heine Jr. is taking nothing for granted, even though he's the only candidate and has the endorsement of the popular outgoing mayor, W. Robert Flickinger, and the entire City Council.

"All Henry has to do is wake up with a pulse," said Darryl G. Hale, who, unlike Heine, faces competition from two other candidates in his bid for one of two seats on the council.

So why does Heine bother running a vigorous campaign, going door to door every evening, until voters cast their ballots at City Hall Monday?

"Even though I'm not opposed, I still think I'm learning something," Heine said. "People tend to talk to you a little more freely when you're out there in their environment, as opposed to your environment."

Heine said he had intended to set up regular office hours at City Hall after the election so residents could discuss whatever was on their minds. But after his campaign experience, he has decided to continue going out to neighborhoods on a regular basis.

"I've picked up so many ideas walking around town, it's incredible," he said.

For example, he said many people have brought up the school shooting tragedy in Colorado.

"There's a concern about what's happening to our youths," Heine said. "I'm going to address that."

Heine said several residents would like to see a community center where youths could stop in after school.

The father of two daughters, 17 and 20, said he has always supported youth recreation.

"I was president of the majorette corps in town for a number of years," he said.

He also helped out with youth groups and dances at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church.

He championed the unpopular idea of a skateboard park, though he was outvoted by the rest of the council, whose members were worried about liability.

"If that's the case, I told them, we have to close all the parks," Heine said, adding that so much concern about liability would paralyze the city. "A kid could fall off a swing, you know? Someone could step in a gopher hole."

He has gained a reputation for outspokenness in his 10 years on the council.

Heine ran for mayor four years ago, losing to fellow council member Flickinger. He has been mayor pro tem, which means that when Flickinger is out of town or unable to attend a meeting, Heine serves as mayor to sign documents or preside over council meetings.

His hit-the-streets campaign, despite the dearth of competition, seems in character.

James R. LeFaivre, who sits on the city's Economic Development Council and the Planning and Zoning Committee, said Heine seems to show up at all of the meetings LeFaivre attends.

"I do know he is extremely interested in Taneytown, and he has spent a tremendous amount of his personal time attending meetings to keep up with what's going on," LeFaivre said.

"He is opinionated, but at least you always know where he stands," LeFaivre said.

Heine's election would leave a vacancy on the council to be filled by appointment. Heine would present a list of nominees to the council, which would then vote on the new member.

"I do have a list of candidates already," he said, although he declined to release the list before submitting it to the council after the election.

Heine, 52, grew up in Fells Point in Baltimore. He and his wife, Linda, moved to Taneytown in 1975, a year after they were married.

"We were looking for a small community," Heine said. "We wanted an atmosphere to bring our kids up in that was not like it was in the Baltimore metro area. And quite honestly, the housing prices were affordable as well."

They lived first in the Cloverberry development, and then bought an older brick home on East Baltimore Street. From the start, he said, he was active in the community, first with his homeowners' association, and then with church and community organizations and the city's Board of Zoning Appeals.

He works as a software and hardware engineer for the Mass Transit Administration, which requires a daily commute to southwest Baltimore.

"It would be lovely to get up in the morning and take a five- minute drive to work," Heine said. "I'm quite envious of these people."

One of his goals as councilman, and as mayor, is economic development -- luring more business, industry and jobs to the small city.

"There's so many things tied to economic development," Heine said. "You benefit from jobs, and the secondary benefit from the environment. You don't have to travel as much, and you reduce the number of trips."

While Flickinger has endorsed Heine, the outgoing mayor would rather have seen at least two candidates vying for the office.

"It's a sad situation, really it is, when people don't have any more concern for their community than that," Flickinger said.

Heine may not have competition on the ballot, but there is speculation that Flickinger's fellow members of the local Grace United Church of Christ congregation plan to write in his name.

But, Flickinger said, "Half of them don't live in the city; they're mostly country people."

Pub Date: 4/30/99

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