Election focus on traffic, growth

Four candidates vie for three seats

May 09, 1999|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

Issues in tomorrow's election for Westminster Common Council range from how to deal with traffic congestion on Route 140 to attracting new development to the city.

The race finds two newcomers and two incumbents contending for three open seats.

Suzanne P. Albert, 66, and L. Gregory Pecoraro, 40, are running for re-election, with landscape designer Kevin E. Dayhoff, 45, and Baltimore Police Sgt. Frank E. Wagner Jr., 39, both seeking first terms on the council.

Albert, a registered nurse and director of adult day services provider West End Place, said the biggest issue facing the city is the development of the former Farmers Supply Co. site at Liberty and Green streets. Carroll County Bank & Trust Co. had planned to build offices at the site, but scrapped those plans when it was acquired by a North Carolina firm.

"I'm also interested and concerned about the availability of affordable housing," said the Westminster native. "We need to get the word out and coordinate with the county."

Pecoraro, an assistant secretary at the state Department of Transportation who has lived in Carroll County all his life and in Westminster the past 10 years, said his top priority is getting a second high school built in the city.

"I'm working with parents' groups, and it's of great importance to the community to keep the high school on schedule," he said, adding that another priority is finding someone to develop the Farmers Supply site.

Dayhoff, who recently resigned from the county's Environmental Affairs Advisory Board, said no specific issue prompted his candidacy. He said he thinks the council is doing a good job and he would not have run if Councilman Stephen R. Chapin Sr. hadn't stepped down.

"I think I can make a contribution," he said. "It's something I've wanted to do since I was a kid."

Dayhoff was born in Westminster, left to attend Elon College in North Carolina for two years, then moved just outside of Westminster in 1961.

He moved back inside the city limits in 1996. His top priorities are economic development and strengthening existing businesses.

"We need to reach out to them and see what their needs are," he said. "It's not inductive thinking, it's deductive thinking."

Wagner, who has lived in Westminster's Eagleview section for six years and in Anne Arundel County before that, said he wants the city to keep a closer watch on development.

"I know there are developments that are good, and I'm not by any means saying once you come in you should shut the door, but you have to make sure the infrastructure is in place before you do it," he said.

"Knowing the schools are over capacity and the roads congested, it's as though they're afraid to say `no' to new development."

Traffic congestion

All the candidates say traffic congestion, especially along the Route 140 corridor, is a problem and none has a magic bullet.

Dayhoff supports the bypass killed by the governor. Wagner said he was not sure what could be done in the short term now that the bypass is off the table. And Albert and Pecoraro -- who said he recuses himself from all votes related to his job -- said the city needs to continue to work with the State Highway Administration on improvements to Route 140.

None of the candidates supports mass transit between Baltimore and Westminster. All said the issue of transportation -- be it taxi service or extra intra-county buses -- should be studied.

Albert, who lives on Willis Street with her husband, Charles, said she should be re-elected because she can continue to be of service to city residents. She pointed out that she saved the bell in the clock tower of the old fire hall when the fire department moved to its new building. "The clock wouldn't be anything without the chimes, would it?"

Albert was also the only council member to vote against development at the old Koontz farm on the western edge of the city -- a development that residents of neighboring Cliveden Reach said posed a threat to their home prices.

A civic role

Pecoraro said he wants to continue the work he's started and that he enjoys public service.

"It sounds hokey, I know, but if you have the time and the ability, it's important to give something back to the community," he said.

He lives with his wife, Syd, and 7-year-old daughter Alexandra in the Furnace Hills area. He said he wants people in the newer sections of town, such as his, to feel more a part of the community and to become more involved in city activities.

He said it's important for the city -- through various incentive programs -- to help people fix up their homes and businesses, especially to the east and west of Main Street.

Wagner also said it's important for residents to play a civic role.

"This is just something I've always wanted to be involved in," he said. "I think it's incumbent on everyone that if they want the government to work for them, they have to work hard."

He said the city should focus on luring more high-paying jobs -- a move that would help reduce the number of people commuting out of the county.

Dayhoff, who lives with his wife Caroline Babylon off Uniontown Road, also would like to see more people with good jobs in the city.

"We need all sorts of businesses," he said. "I like the employment offered by, say, the insurance companies and accounting firms, but there is a very definite place for jobs offered by Carroll Lutheran Village and Marada."

Voters in the 1st Precinct vote in the new fire hall at 28 John St., and voters in the 2nd Precinct go to The Greens Community Center at 325 Royer Road. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Pub Date: 5/09/99

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