Letter to the Editor: Important Questions for County Council Candidates

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In late 2012, a group of organizational leaders and concerned citizens met to begin a process of working together to benefit Chestertown and Kent County by advancing actions that would profit from a collaborative effort. Our goals were to serve as a clearinghouse for communications, identify collective issues, and advance policies that would benefit all. The Greater Chestertown Initiative was created to provide this forum.

Since our inception the Greater Chestertown Initiative (GCI) has served as a place of dialogue and information dissemination. Never have we been so keenly aware of how important elections are for our national and local communities. This year we will be electing three county commissioners. All three incumbents are running along with five additional candidates.

In mid-April, a small group of bi-partisan community leaders active in GCI met to begin the process of reaching consensus on the critical issues facing our county and the questions we might ask our candidates to help us better understand who will give us the best chance of reaching our goals.

A meeting of the full group was convened on May 15th to solicit input on the areas identified and request involvement in helping direct the conversation during the coming election. Discussions were thoughtful and respectful as we determined how to best put forward a vision for our county, to raise issues of concern, and to get the candidates on record as to their positions.

The results of our efforts will be made available to all. We encourage a continued dialogue. We hope news outlets, radio stations, commentators, editorial writers, groups sponsoring candidate forums, online bloggers, writers of letters to the editor, and the candidates themselves will find these questions thought provoking and worthy of attention.

Questions for County Commissioner Candidates

Economic Growth

The Kent County Economic Development Strategic Plan 2017 prioritizes business expansion, retention and attraction. What’s your unique vision for economic growth, and what would you expect as outcomes in 5 to 10 years?

· What proactive strategies will you implement to recruit businesses appropriate to the county?

· What is one economic initiative the commissioners should launch in their first 120 days in office that would encourage economic growth in the county?

· What is your plan for creating a business friendly, economic development program for small businesses moving to our county as they deal with county rules and regulations?

Transportation

The United Way of Kent County recently prioritized transportation as a top need in the county. What ideas do you have to increase accessible and affordable transportation throughout the county?

· How will you create public / private partnerships to address this issue?

· How will you reach out to other rural jurisdictions to study their plans?

Public Schools

What are you willing to do to make Kent County Public Schools the best in the State of Maryland?

· Are you committed to budgeting the resources our public schools need? Including:

o Competitive teacher salaries

o Pre-school education for all three year old children

o Social workers to support our young people dealing with crises

· What will you do to help reverse the perception that our public schools are not successful in the face of data that shows otherwise?

· How will you market our public schools to demonstrate their successes?

Hospital

The University of Maryland Medical System and its Shore Regional Health System are required by law to maintain inpatient services at the Chestertown hospital, until June 30 of 2020, and the clock is ticking. In spite of the workgroup’s recommendation, there was no legislation during this year’s General Assembly to ensure that our hospital will offer inpatient care long into the future, and in the meantime, Shore has been reducing services in Chestertown. The hospital is of critical importance to our community’s medical and economic health.

· How will you proactively and visibly act to save our hospital?

· What will you do, if elected, to make sure the state passes legislation to ensure our hospital will offer inpatient care long into the future?

Racially Inclusive County

In the May 17 edition of the Kent County News, an editorial described how racism endures in our county. What work needs to be done to build the inclusive community Kent County should be, and how would you implement that work?

· How would you show the African American and Latino communities they are essential to the success of our county?

Lani Seikaly & Carla Massoni
The Greater Chestertown Initiative

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Letters to Editor

  1. Charles Lerner says:

    Wonderful and pertinent questions. Commissioner candidates should respond to each of the questions in writing that the Spy and other media can distribute. Candidates please provide direct and specific responses to these important questions.

    Charles Lerner

  2. joyce Schauber Kim says:

    What direct and meaningful questions these are. I hope the County Commissioners will provide direct and meaningful answers.

  3. Robbi Behr says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful questions. You hit on the key issues that we can and should be addressing here in Kent County. I hope all candidates take them seriously and give us a clear vision and plan of action for our future. Thank you for putting the questions on everyone’s radar!

  4. Carol Schroeder says:

    I applaud these questions. However, as a registered Democrat, I must vote the Democratic ballot in the primary. The three Democratic candidates for County Commissioner are running unopposed in the primary. It will not be until the general election that the answers to these questions will be useful in deciding for whom to vote. If the Democratic candidates do not answer these questions to my liking, or not at all, I will vote for the person, not the Democrat.

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