Shoge Will Not Run for Re-election

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Sam Shoge, Chestertown’s Third Ward councilman, announced in a Spy interview that he will not seek re-election.

First Ward Councilwoman Liz Gross announced at Monday’s council meeting that she is  not seeking re-election in the upcoming election, due to her husband’s health. That leaves two seats open in the town council elections, set for Tuesday, Nov. 2. Mayor Chris Cerino, who also faces re-election this fall, has not announced his intentions. The deadline for candidate filing is Friday, Oct. 6.

Shoge told the Spy, “After three and a half years of serving on the town council, it’s very difficult for me to say, but I will not be seeking re-election for the Third Ward on the Chestertown town council.” Shoge went on to explain: “I was fortunate enough to get a fantastic job with Talbot County, serving as their economic development coordinator, and I’m very grateful to the county council in Talbot for allowing me to finish out my four-year term. But for very obvious reasons, serving as an economic development coordinator for one jurisdiction while being on the town council for another one – it certainly opens me up to potential conflict, and it really wouldn’t serve anybody well. So I will be finishing out my four-year term and I won’t be seeking re-election.”

“Being on the town council has been an extremely enlightening experience,” Shoge said. “It’s kind of hard to believe, but I was 24 when I was first elected, and it seems like at the time I was so young, and so unprepared for something like this – constituent service, and really having to manage the fine details of a budget. I’m not afraid to admit, it was pretty overwhelming to begin with. But I really settled into the position, and what really kept me going was walking down the street and so many people expressing just how proud they were and how they were rooting for me and how I had their full support. That was really motivating and uplifting, and that allowed me to settle into the position comfortably to start taking on and pursuing different types of initiatives.”

Asked about his achievements during his council term, Shoge said, “What I am most proud of was working on the digital infrastructure of the town. One of the things that I campaigned on was the fact that we really needed a new website for the town. The old website at one time served the town just fine, but as I was coming onto the scene and campaigning, its overall limitations became very apparent very quickly. So that was one of the things I was focused and committed on revamping once I got elected. I really wanted the town to have a platform that all the residents could come to to find the information that they needed very easily and very quickly.

Shoge added, “The events calendar is one thing I think was a huge step up because it empowered our local community to populate that calendar with all the variety of events that take place in the town. So you had a one-stop destination to go to to find out all your resources – the trash pickup and recycling pickup schedules, and to figure out what is happening in the town on the weekend, and to figure out the contact information for your locally elected officials. And that really led to ways to market the town in ways that we really couldn’t have done prior to that.”

Asked about unfinished business he would like to complete during the remainder of his term, Shoge cited the project to build a community park in the Washington Park neighborhood in his ward. “But this is going to be a multi-phase project,” he said. “I’m really happy that I was able to lay that foundation and get things started, but it’s going to be tough not being able to finish that task.” He said he hoped to ensure that the next person to represent the Third Ward understands the community’s needs and desires. He said he had spoken to one possible candidate to succeed him in the council seat, exploring ways to make the transition smooth and to make sure they could commit to working with the community.

Shoge said he originally became intrigued with local politics when, as a young boy, he found the computer game “Sim City.” “There was just something about that game – getting to be a mayor, getting to build a town – that just lit a fire in me. And that has stuck with me since middle school.” He said it was surprising to some people that a video game could inspire that kind of passion. While in high school, he interned with the Kent County Planning and Zoning department. Going on to college, he minored in political science and public administration and interned with the Alamance County local government. “All of these things kind of stuck with me,” he said. Once he was out of college and working at Washington College, he said, “I couldn’t shake the overall feeling that there was a better and higher way I could serve my town.” So when several residents approached him about running for the council, he described it as “kind of the perfect collision of my overall desire to serve Chestertown and their desire to find somebody young and energetic” to run for council.

Looking back on his council term, Shoge said he hoped his term would serve as an inspiration for other young community members to consider running for office. “This is in fact something that you can do,” he said. “You’re never too young to serve your community and to make a difference and to make an impact.”

Shoge, whose family moved to Chestertown in 1990, is a graduate of Kent County High School and of Elon University in North Carolina, After college, he accepted a job in the Admissions department of Washington College, where his mother Ruth Shoge is Dean of library and academic technology. He accepted the position with Talbot County in November 2016.

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. Marty Stetson says:

    Darn, first Liz now Sam, it looks like we will really have a different look on the Council in January of 2018. Sam has been a real asset on the Council and both he and Lis will be missed Sam brought a new energy to his ward and did a great job of representing his constituents. He earned my respect and I feel sure of the other members on the Council. Our loss is Talbot County’s gain. I really hope he will continue to live here in Chestertown and maybe even find employment at some point that will not only let him live here but work here.

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