Two Poems by Robert Earl Price


Chain of Change

Poem for the Inauguration of Dr. Christopher Ames

As president of The Sage Colleges

Marching in caps and gowns marking the players as sage

Guardians of lore and legend dancing on the stage

Hailing the new grandmaster chosen to write this page

Charting the course through culture’s ever-shifting rage

The seasoned scholar elected to unravel tradition’s cage

Reciting ceremonial vows to welcome the unfolding age


We search for signs that will name this age

And stamp this conductor as a worthy sage

Entrusted with the keys to this ever morphing cage

Where burnished bars cast shadows upon the stage

As theory and dream  present the drama of education’s rage

Freeing canonized doctrine from the yellowed page


Tradition and reason grappling on the page

Molding a myth for the forthcoming age

Ridding us of limits imposed by last century’s rage

Today we spice old chestnuts with freshly ground sage

Stirring a caldron of learning bubbling on the stage

Smudging ivied walls, transforming the cage


Wrapping seasoned scholars in an evolving cage

Where the jaded eyes of history redact every page

Today we add a link to the story told on stage

Choreographing polished steps for the dawning age

Playing new songs deciphered by the chosen sage

Together we board a raft of reason to ride the rapid’s rage


Avoiding white waters of tightly bridled rage

Steering good intentions around the confining cage

Conducting a symphonic overture for the next movement of Sage

Another name to be inscribed upon the page

Bring a rhythmic tempo for a kaleidoscopic age

As antiquity’s musings fret upon the stage


Singing arias of new aims voiced from center stage

Tatting the shimmering veil tween placid past and simmering rage

We fan the embers to fuel a flaming age

Ablaze with possibilities that inflate the billowing cage

Where stippled light splashes the gilded page

With huzzahs hailing the ascending mission of Sage


Today we move into an emerging age and shed the familiar cage

Imagination rampant on the stage, etching every page

With runes of ritual rage perfumed with the subtle scent of sage





The sun caresses the moon

Earth loses touch with reality

Day and night in the same room

Transiting the path of totality


Land rippled with banded snakes

Wolf howl and rooster crow

Inner grace squirming in our wakes

Noon caught in a sidereal show


The moon wears a string of red beads

The sun flecks the mist with rainbows

Clamored affirmations voicing every creed

As the heavens unveil chatoyant glows


A flaming ring of sunsets whirl around

Celestial orbs inspiring rituals of wonder

Entangled shadows writhing on the ground

Expectantly we await doomsday’s thunder


Until Ra reposts the day’s light,

And Luna waxes the night


*Sidereal ( adjective relating to the stars



For Whom Is CBF Saving the Bay? by Marc Castelli


On July 5, The Banner published a commentary written by Ms. Alison Prost. who is the Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Her headline read, Chesapeake Bay Foundation: Oyster story “isn’t that simple”.

Overall the piece exercised some carefully nuanced messaging and was not objective. I understand that it is a commentary and not an article, which would have some basic standards for being factual. It is labelled as a commentary. The readership should take it as the opinion it is. I have to ask; When CBF policy directors and educators go public with “commentaries”, aren’t they responsible to do so with reliable facts, not misleading innuendoes?

I will quote from just a few of the many questionable examples in the piece that will illustrate the missteps.

“…Forced to find oysters far away from their home grounds. That is a good story. It isn’t that simple”

Ms. Prost should have talked to an oysterman, not a CBF computer clicking biologist or administrator. Is Ms. Prost a biologist? She claims the oystermen made up the story. That is strong talk. Ask a local oysterman. True they weren’t forced to go to another area, as in picked up and forced to harvest from the Choptank or Chester River. But they certainly were forced out of the Little Choptank when it was established as a river wide sanctuary. The entire river isn’t being used for the restoration project, so one could ask why oystermen can’t harvest from the many creeks that aren’t part of the largescale planting project (share the river in other words). It’s because they were forced out! And that’s no story. And it is simple.

“Harvest of 84 K bushels-“…a lot of tax dollars were poured into the river in the form of oyster shells-1.5 million bushels between 1990 and 2000”.

To counter that oystermen were forced out, CBF argues that the harvest was great but then declined so oystermen had to move out anyway. It is accurate that the harvest declined, but that doesn’t negate that the sanctuary closure in fact closed the river to oystering. Facts are facts. The sanctuary law forced the end to oystering in the Little Choptank and many other areas. CBF may want you to believe alternate facts, but that boat doesn’t float in the waters on the Chesapeake.

CBF is correct that the harvest declined in the Little Choptank after the 1999 value of 84,000 bushels, but they  did not get the details right. They asserted that the harvest fell due to a failed shell program that yielded no benefits. Some facts might be of use in order to clear the air of hyperbole. The harvest did not collapse immediately after 1999. For the next two seasons it was between 27,000 and 33,000 bushels. Then it declined to below 3,000 and lower later on. But it cannot be blamed on a failed shell program. The multi-year strong harvests were partly due to the record spat set of 1997, and earlier good spat sets, that happened on oyster bars and on shell plantings. These facts on spat sets and harvest are noted in the DNR reports which are available online.  The 1997 spat set grew and drove the harvest for a few years after 1997. The downturn soon after (2002 and beyond) was due to a factor that Ms. Prost chose to ignore. These facts are also on the DNR website. Disease killed oysters at a very fast rate and drove the fishery down in just a couple of years after the record high spat set. This happened during the record 4 year drought of 1999-2002. Mortality rates set a historical high. The shells did not fail. They still attracted spat. The spat simply could not live to market size. MSX and Dermo killed them as they grew. According to CBF’s Prost, a failure in the shell program caused the decline in harvest. Is this a case of the foundation being misinformed or did she deliberately misinterpret the facts to suit her opinion? If the commentaries are factually inaccurate, or worse purposefully misleading, haven’t they betrayed their membership and those who attend their educational seminars, where accuracy is supposed to be paramount, not propaganda?

My last example is; CBF wrote: “Nothing actually improved, not the amount of oysters available to harvest, not the oyster population, not the ecology of the oyster bars.”

This set of opinions is the most serious error that CBF used. Remember that CBF is an environmental/educational organization that teaches our kids about the Bay. Yet their statement counters decades of information on the oyster industry and oysters as an ecological entity. CBF misses some facts. The seafood industry isn’t the only recipient of economic benefits. There are boat manufacturers, mechanics, marinas, fuel suppliers, gear manufacturers, marine electronic suppliers, restaurants, wait staff, local stores where oystermen and their families shop, truck dealers, the list goes on. As these other businesses benefit, it causes an economic multiplier (often assigned a value of 3) such that a dockside value of $10 million to the harvesters, for example, has a benefit in the economy of $30 million. Oddly enough some think that 3 is a low multiplier.

Over time, the shell program improved oyster habitat and the population, though CBF from that comfy office chair said nothing improved. It is an undeniable fact that shelling improved the oyster bottom. This program enhances the spat set. It is another undeniable fact that this shelling created new oysters that added to the population. Fact, this improved the harvest. CBF actually said in their commentary that shelling contributed to the high harvest of 84,000 bushels. But in a following section CBF stated that the harvest was not improved by the program. CBF can’t have it both ways. Shelling helped to such a degree that even though it ended in 2006, in the sanctuary period post 2010 the shelly bottom remaining from the program had such a population on it that it was noted in the DNR report.

There is more. It is a basic fact of oyster ecology that live oysters enhance the ecological diversity of a site. This is in CBF literature also. Yet CBF writes the shell program didn’t improve the ecology of the oyster bars. But, with more oysters on the bar, there is an enhanced ecology. Maybe not to the level of an untouched reef, but the addition of shell and oysters do in fact improve the ecology of the bar. Oysters on public bottom are there at least 3 years until they are harvested. They are filtering and providing other ecological values. There is an unforgiveable amount of misinformation and misdirection in this messaging by CBF. You see, CBF, it isn’t as simple as saying nothing happened. In fact it is just wrong to say so.

As for being costly to tax payers, there are a lot of things supported partially or fully by taxes. The repletion effort was funded by tax dollars but some of those taxes came from the oyster industry itself and from fees paid by oystermen and oyster buyers. The repletion program wasn’t a full subsidy and yet none of this information was in Ms. Prost’s commentary. Having looked at the CBF tax returns for 2016 I discovered that the organization took in $364,000.00 from federated grants and also took in$1.55 million dollars in government grants. That is a lot of money to be sadly reflected in commentary missteps and errors. Maybe that tax payer subsidy needs reviewing. At the least the many CBF members should rethink their membership dues and fees and demand more responsibility.

Here are a few questions that I and many others would like for CBF to answer;

Having a declared goal doesn’t automatically make one an expert. Does having the goal of saving the Bay make CBF unquestionably trustworthy?

Does CBF’s “Save the Bay’ reputation justify its misrepresentation of facts, whether by accident or not?

Who peer reviews CBF’s scientific findings (in house or outside contract)?

Why are we plagued with policy makers expecting to be accepted as experts just because they express opinions in areas to which they have no expertise?

CBF policy directors should refrain from mistake ridden, half-truths and out right falsehoods. Policy statements that should be fact based, but are in reality just opinionated commentaries should not be seized upon as opportunities to air personal gripes and grievances. CBF needs to be beyond reproach and factually reliable. But it fails when its directors cherry pick facts, seek only details that feed their confirmation bias, and cloak themselves in the reputation of being selfless and honest. Members in CBF, River and Conservation Associations should expect more honesty from their chosen groups’ leaders. Members should be more than dues paying “slacktivists”, who trust their associations or foundations to do be more honest. Instead members should be more proactive and demand more accountability from their policy makers.

For whom is CBF “saving” the Bay? From whom is CBF “saving’ the bay? Who will you exclude from the Bay when you have saved it?

Marc Castelli


Bipartisan Celebration of Service Members and Veterans


Democrats, Republicans and Independents gathered on First Friday at the Democratic Headquarters at 357 High Street in Chestertown to celebrate and honor military family and friends through the memorabilia that has been featured in the twin windows for several months.

Contributors of many of the articles and artifacts shared with others their family stories, the meaning of the memorabilia and how cherished and enriched life is in this country because of their sacrifices.

The windows feature pictures of the five young men from Kent County killed in Viet Nam, family pictures of men and women serving their country, uniforms of all the branches of service, ration coupons from the WWII home front, and books written about some of the local heroes.

The window displays will be in place through the Veteran’s Day weekend.  Please stop by and see if you can spot the Trench Art candle sticks made from artillery shells  (circa 1943) on loan from the George Kennedy family or the medic bag and beret from the Pinder family.   See the AAF (Army Air Forces) Cloth Chart of Japan and the South China Sea (C-52), the East China Sea on reverse (C-53). It is an acetate rayon typographical escape map, at first produced for pilots, for use by “War and Navy Department Agencies only”

This belonged to a WWII pilot from Baltimore.

Please take a quiet moment to read the telegram of regret for Lawrence Meeks, killed in France in WWII, and see his picture, Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

The windows are lighted at night, so those wishing to pay tribute may visit and photograph the windows at any time.

The Democratic Club of Kent County would like to thank all of those members, Kent County residents and the American Legion for their contributions and to those near and far who have given so much so we can enjoy the opportunity to find what we all share in common – peace.


Sumner Hall Salutes Veterans


As the calendar marks another celebration of Veterans Day, we hope that each of us will take a moment to say “thank-you” to someone who has served our country as a member of the armed forces.

We also want to salute a unique group of veterans from Kent County:  the 471 African Americans who served as Union soldiers and sailors during the U. S. Civil War.

During the Civil War black soldiers were recruited from across the nation as members of the United States Colored Troops (USCT).  Of the 188,670 who served, 8,718 were from Maryland and 476 of the Maryland soldiers (426) and sailors (45) were from Kent County.   Of the Kent County solders, 175 died during the war, mostly from illness and non-combat injuries.   They served in the U.S. Navy and in 33 different USCT Army Regiments.  A large number served in one of the 7 USCT Regiments that fought at the Battle of the Crater and the Siege of Petersburg on July 30, 1864.

Sumner Hall

We invite and encourage everyone to come to Sumner Hall in Chestertown to learn more about the contributions of these brave citizens – at the Battle of the Crater and on other battlefields.  You can also look up the record of service and the homes of most of these veterans, thanks to the research of Professor George Shivers, whose book is on display at the museum.

In 1882, 28 African American Civil War veterans established the Charles A. Sumner Post of the Grand Army of the Republic  – one of 56 in Maryland.   One of the first racially integrated organizations in America, the G.A R. was known for its lobbying efforts to ensure the payment of government pensions to former soldiers and to advocate voting rights for black veterans.  For more than fifty years, it also provided financial aid, burial benefits and social support for its members and their families and honored all veterans on Decoration Day (now Memorial Day) each year.

Their legacy lives on at Sumner Hall!


Robert Ingersoll, President

Larry Wilson, Vice-President

G.A. R. Post #25 (Sumner Hall)

A Soldier’s Return to Civilian Life: Modern Warrior Live to Debut in Easton this Weekend


When United States Army Veteran Jaymes Poling returned from Afghanistan, he was hit with a difficult decision: share his personal accounts of combat with others and risk a change in their perception of him or internalize everything he’d been through?

“A lot of veterans run into that,” he says. “I didn’t want to become the sum of my stories.”

Dominick Farinacci and Jaymes Poling

So, the finance major decided to do something to change the narrative often told of a veteran’s journey. It’s a theatrical production called Modern Warrior Live and it debuts in Easton before its New York City-run—and inevitable nation-wide distribution—on Saturday, November 18 and Sunday, November 19 at the Avalon Theatre in Easton.

This live experience combines dynamic musical performances, led by renowned jazz musician Dominick Farinacci, and the autobiographical details of Poling’s three years as an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division.

“It spans all generations of music,” Farinacci says. “The audience can expect to hear a lot of songs they’ve heard before, but in a completely different context, as well as completely new material.”

It all began over a year ago, when a mutual friend introduced Poling to Farinacci, who was searching for insight from a veteran to help better perform a cover song. That initial meeting lasted several hours, as the two spoke about Poling’s experiences and how they could collaborate on something more than that one piece.

“Everything [Poling] said was running contrary to what I’d heard. And there was so much substance, we kept going back and forth for months until we realized we should create a stage production,” Farinacci says. “And having [Poling] tell his own story just makes it that much more powerful.”

Poling was initially hesitant to participate in the endeavor, however, as he worried he might perpetuate stereotypes, like the wounded or hero veteran. He was well aware that in our current “soundbite culture,” one vet’s story becomes generalized to represent all veterans’ stories and he didn’t want to exacerbate the issue.

But, he eventually realized how the venture could not only benefit himself in a therapeutic sense, but also help the general public gain a better understanding of a veteran’s time in combat and their reintegration as a civilian. And, most importantly, start a dialog between veterans and their local communities.

“I felt like I couldn’t sit here and complain about the narrative and not do anything about it,” Poling says. “What I really like about the stage production is we’re able to share all those [experiences], yet the audience doesn’t walk away seeing somebody as a victim of that one violent experience.”

With Poling on board to write and narrate his own story, Farinacci coordinated with about 10 different musicians, from percussionists to vocalists, to create a soundtrack that portrays the veteran’s psychological experiences.

“This is a universal story. It’s not specific to an American who served,” says Farinacci. “It’s really a story of growth and struggle and adversity and psychological challenges and, ultimately, the positive growth that can come from that.”

Catch Modern Warrior Live at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 18, or 2 p.m. Sunday, November 19, at the Avalon Theatre in Easton. Complimentary tickets are available to all veterans/active military and one additional guest. Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 410-819-0380.




“Special Rural Community Hospital” Legislation Could Save Hospital


Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton, chair of the Senate Finance Committee is the tall man standing front and center, next to Del. Jay Jacobs of Rock Hall, and surrounded by members of the Workgroup on Rural Health Delivery. Workgroup Co-chair Deborah Mizeur is behind Jacobs’ left shoulder, with Co-Chair Joseph Ciotola (nearly obscured behind Sen. Middleton) and Sen. Steve Hershey to her left. Shore Regional Health System President and CEO Ken Kozel is at far left, in the third row from the front. Heron Point Executive Director Garret Falcone is at far right, in the back row.

I have excellent news about the future of our hospital in Chestertown beyond 2022.

With the help of our doctors, delegates, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton, Workgroup co-chairs Deborah Mizeur and Joe Ciotola, and thousands in our community, the “Save the Hospital” campaign has cleared another hurdle:

On September 28, the state’s “Workgroup on Rural Health Delivery” unanimously agreed that the Chestertown hospital should offer in-patient medical and surgical services.  That means indefinitely, beyond 2022.  That is what our community has fought for since January 2016.

The hospital recommendation also approved unanimously by the Health Care Commission, now goes to the General Assembly as part of a comprehensive Mid-Shore health care plan.

If the in-patient endorsement wins legislative approval and Governor Hogan’s support, the facility on Brown Street will become a “Special Rural Community Hospital,” uniquely eligible for state funding.  The state subsidy is controversial, but it’s critically important.  More than 80 rural American hospitals have closed since 2010.

The Workgroup’s unanimous approval was gratifying.  Even members who had been skeptical or opposed to in-patient care here eventually agreed with messages we’d heard at the January 10, 2016, “Firehouse Meeting.”

  • Healthcare, including in-patient beds, should be as close to home as possible.
  • Shuttling frail patients to Easton from Chestertown and the far-reaches of Kent and Queen Anne’s is bad—sometimes dangerous—medicine.
  • Leaving people who can’t drive with no way to get to Easton appointments and visits to loved ones in the hospital means sick people get sicker.

We’ve come a long way since early 2016 when Shore Health’s board was planning to retain our Emergency Department, diagnostics (MRIs, X-rays, etc.), same-day surgery, rehab, chemo and other ambulatory services, but to eliminate in-patient beds and any surgery requiring an overnight stay.

Ken Kozel, CEO and President of Shore Health, was one of the Workgroup members who endorsed the final report, and on October 28, he reiterated his commitment to the Chester River Health Foundation board.

Shore Health, he said, stands by its in-patient care promise through spring of 2022, and afterward if Maryland provides support as requested through the rural study.

“We feel if you can sustain the funding, then it’s an appropriate facility to have in this community in perpetuity,” Kozel said, adding his agreement with the Workgroup’s conclusion.

“It’s needed,” he said.

Here’s the Workgroup’s full report.  The rural hospital paragraph is at the bottom of page 16.

Margie Elsberg

“Save the Hospital”

Volunteer Communications Coordinator

Bring Your War Stories! WW II Story Collection at Library Nov 11


Students interview World War II veteran

Do you have photographs, letters, or memories from World War II you’d like to share? A team of Washington College students will be stationed at the Chestertown Branch of the Kent County Public Library on Saturday, November 11,

to scan your artifacts and collect your stories.

In honor of Veterans Day, these student researchers seek to chronicle local wartime involvement on both the home front and battlefront through the recollections of those who experienced it. Potential contributors might be World War II veterans and their families, or simply local residents who have memories from the time period. The event will take place in the Main Meeting Room from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During the Second World War, military personnel stationed across the country and overseas drew strength from letters exchanged with family and friends, serving as poignant reminders of home. American civilians had a substantial influence on the wartime effort by building new factories, rationing household supplies, and mobilizing donation drives. Yet, these important contributions remain lesser-known and celebrated in American history.

Since 2013, the StoryQuest Program has recorded over 200 oral histories with residents who experienced World War II locally or across the nation and abroad. Digital interviews and scans of wartime letters, photos, and other artifacts are permanently archived at Washington College, where they are accessible to the public.



Candidate Profile: Bob Miller


Bob Miller, candidate for Ward 1

Bob Miller – This is one in a series of profiles of candidates for the Ward 1 seat on the Chestertown Town Council. Three candidates are running for the seat, currently held by Councilwoman Liz Gross. The election is Nov. 7 at Chestertown Firehouse with voting open from 7 a.m. to 8: pm.

Candidate profiles are based on an interview plus submitted biographical material.  See the Spy’s report on the Nov 2 Candidate Forum at Heron Point with a 22-minute video of  all three candidates responses.  —  Editors

Bob Miller was born in Flushing, NY, and grew up in Fayetteville, NY, a small village near Syracuse.  While he has spent much of his life in urban areas, he grew up in a small town in upstate New York, where his family owned a milk processing business. He remembers cleaning out tanker trucks that hauled milk into New York City, and watching the cows on the farm next door. “So I have a connection to farmers, for sure,” he said.

Miller went to Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio, where he met his wife, Mindy. He majored in Biology (Pre-Med) graduating with honors. After college, he went to graduate school at Indiana University and received his Master’s Degree specializing in Cytogenetics. He worked for 10 years at a hospital, medical school, and medical laboratory. After 10 years as a cytogeneticist, Miller went back to school to become a Certified Public Accountant in Maryland; he received his CPA designation in 1991.

He has worked in numerous well known national and international non-profits at the senior financial management level (Controller, CFO, VP of Finance, etc).  In 2007, Miller started his own CPA consulting firm, focusing on interim CFO work at non-profit organizations. In 2012, he got another Master’s Degree in taxation from American University. He has over 100 tax clients, including individuals, small businesses, and non-profits.

Miller now has an accounting business in Chestertown called Cedar Chase Consulting. He is the treasurer of the Chester River Wellness Alliance, a new non-profit in Chestertown as well as the Secretary of the Executive Board of Directors for Mid-Shore Pro Bono providing legal services on the Eastern Shore.

Bob has been married to Mindy for 39 yrs. They have 2 daughters and 2 grandchildren with one on the way. He has a pilot’s license and flies his own plane and loves to take aerial photos of the shore and the bay.

Miller said he is running for the Ward 1 council seat because he feels Chestertown is a special place – “the people, the neighbors, the area, the environment, all of it – it’s just incredible.” When he found out incumbent Councilwoman Liz Gross was not running, he decided the town council would be a good way to take his involvement with the town “to another level.” Because of his background working with non-profits, he arrived at the insight that the town government is essentially a $5 million non-profit organization. “With my accounting background and 30 years’ experience in non-profits, I could offer my services and my talents. I want to give back while I’m here if I can.” He said he wants more information on how the town is doing in terms of the budget and expenses to be available. “I just feel there should be more financial transparency,” he said.

A key issue facing the town in the near future, Miller said, is its fixed income stream, with most of its income from property taxes and a few grants, in an environment of increasing costs. “Salaries keep going up every year, and other things come up that need to be done. At the end of the day, the challenge will be increasing revenues.” He said his accounting experience could help in navigating choices – “there are costs and there are choices, and which way do we want to go?”

Miller also cited the future of the hospital as a looming challenge – “I really feel this is a huge linchpin for this town,” he said. Everyone would be affected if it became necessary to go to Easton for hospital care. “If you have an emergency situation, you don’t have time to go anywhere else.” Another challenge, he said, is to embellish the arts and entertainment community, possibly by adding new places for music and entertainment. “It would be a big draw for Chestertown,” he said. “Why can’t we have a National Music Festival all year around?” He said a convention center or retreat center could give the town an appeal – “We’ve got so much to offer for people who want to get away.”

While Miller has only been a full-time resident since 2016, he says, “I used to be a come-here, now I’m a be-here; I’ll never be a from-here, but we’ll all be a was-here. So while we’re all now here, let’s work together for a better Chestertown.” He added, “You want a community of people that come from many places, that offer perspectives from many places.” He said he has been impressed by the people he has met at Heron Point, where his wife works. “Their experience can add to our town’s experience.”

The main thing that will attract people here, he said, is jobs for young people in the community. “We need other businesses to think about this place, as a place where people can have careers here.”

‘If I could make one thing happen for Chestertown, it would be raining money,” Miller said. “Money is an engine that runs many things.” In his work with non-profits, he has seen how many ways wealth can help society and facilitate the social good

To familiarize himself with the town government, Miller has regularly attended the council meetings since his decision to run, and has studied the town budget and audit reports, posted online. “Going to council meetings, I’ve learned a lot of things, and I feel that anybody should be able to go to council meetings and know that’s a vehicle they can go to for help.”

Candidate profiles are based on an interview plus submitted biographical material.  See the Spy’s report on the Nov 2 Candidate Forum at Heron Point with a 22-minute video of the all three candidates responses.  —  Editors






Candidate Profile: David Foster


David Foster, candidate for Ward 1

David Foster – This is one in a series of profiles of candidates for the Ward 1 seat on the Chestertown Town Council. Three candidates are running for the seat, currently held by Councilwoman Liz Gross. The election is Nov. 7 at Chestertown Firehouse with voting open from 7 a.m. to 8: pm.

Candidate profiles are based on an interview plus submitted biographical material.  See the Spy’s report on the Nov 2 Candidate Forum at Heron Point with a 22-minute video of all three candidates responses.  —  Editors

David Foster was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and grew up in University Park, Maryland. He has lived on Byford Court in Chestertown since 1997. He has been married to Barbara Foster for 49 years. Together, they have two children: Lucia Foster, the former Director of Garfield Center for the Arts, and Jeremy Foster, an international renewable energy consultant.

Foster is a graduate of the University of Maryland, with a Bachelors in Civil Engineering. After college, Foster joined the Peace Corps, where he did school construction in Gabon, West Africa. He then joined the U.S. Marine Corps but was honorably discharged due to a training accident. But that accident, he said, while ending his plans for a military career ended up leading him to other wonderful opportunities to serve. He worked for the US Agency for International Development, and later attended the Foreign Service Institute for training in Vietnamese Language & Culture, after which he worked in Bien Hoa, Vietnam, managing evaluation programs in III Corps. Thus he ended up in Viet Nam after all.

After Vietnam, Foster returned to graduate school to study Urban Planning, Economics and Policy Analysis at Virginia Tech. He worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency as an engineer and urban planner with a focus on helping to improve the effectiveness of Environmental Programs. He spent several years on loan to USAID as a Senior Urban Environmental Advisor for Asia, based in Bangkok. He then moved full-time to USAID in Washington as Assistant Director for Urban Environment, Office of Housing and Urban Development.

Foster also worked as an urban environmental advisor in Romania, Egypt, India, and other countries. He was a Senior Urban Environmental Advisor and Adjunct Professor at the Administrative Staff College of India, teaching Urban Planning and Water Supply, with an emphasis on the safety and cost-effectiveness of well managed continuous water supply.

After moving to Chestertown full time, he served as Riverkeeper on the Chester River and as Chairman of a pro-bono Chesapeake Bay study group promoting more efficient and effective pollution control.

Foster said he decided to run for the town council for three reasons. “Like all of us, I really love Chestertown,” he said. He and his wife visited town 20 years ago, fell in love with it and bought a home within a month. Secondly, as an urban planner and engineer, he tends to look at the long-range picture. “I’m really concerned about the future of Chestertown. Small towns are really in trouble.” With his 40 years’ experience as an urban planner, he said, “I have many of the skills that are needed to help make a difference here, to help start a conversation… Win or lose, I will have helped start a conversation about that future.”

Foster said he sees the major issue facing the town as the lack of long-range planning about the future. “We tend to address issues one thing at a time,” he said. “We have to look forward five to 10 years at a minimum. We love what’s here, but we’ve got to be brave enough to make the changes necessary to keep those things that we value.” He said there is room for additional small business in Chestertown and the immediate area, and the expansions of Lamotte and Dixon Valve and the possibility of high-speed internet offer “great opportunities, and if we seize these opportunities, we can make a difference.” He cited a University of North Carolina study of 45 small towns that showed that a comprehensive effort – “getting the schools, the towns, businesses all working together on bringing in those businesses” – was the key to a town’s retaining its vitality. He said he thought it would be useful to set up a conference at Washington College to examine those issues as they relate to Chestertown and lay out a “roadmap” for small businesses that could fit into the town.

Foster also noted the town’s age demographics, with 25 percent of the population being age 65 or older and only 12 percent under 18. “That’s exactly opposite of what a normal pattern is in Maryland,” he said. “We’re missing not only young families, we’re missing their ideas, their vitality, their willingness to invest and start a business – their support for the schools.” He noted that the town council has no legal authority over the schools, but it could be an advocate for necessary changes and improvements in institutions that affect the quality of life here. He said progress is possible if people are willing to set aside political differences and work for the common good – citing his experience as Riverkeeper where a love of the river united people whose opinions on other subjects were often radically different.

But the key, he said, is to work proactively, not always in response to an impending crisis. He referred to the difference between waiting for a roadway to wear out before performing repairs and a “pavement management system” of regular maintenance and patching – similar to regular doctor’s visits. “Politicians love to have their picture taken when they’re cutting a ribbon,” he said, “but there are few if any photos of them working on maintenance and repairs – it doesn’t happen.” He said a change of mindset is needed to attract small business and young families to town.

Foster said, “I want to have a sense that the town council and the staff and major employers are committed to working together – that they trust each other and will work together for the town. It’s the process that I think is critical. They really need to think long-range and take the short-term steps that will get us to those goals.” He said that whatever the outcome of the election, he is committed to starting the conversation about the future of the town and keeping it going.

Foster’s candidacy has been endorsed by former Ward 1 Councilman Jim Gatto and former Mayor Elmer Horsey.

Candidate profiles are based on an interview plus submitted biographical material.  —  Editors