Triggered by well-known concerns with the Lakeside subdivision, the non-partisan Talbot Integrity Project is focused on land use matters in Talbot County–and on the upcoming County Council election. We do not believe voters want to elect new members from either party who support developers like Rocks Engineering and projects as outrageous as Lakeside, like Messrs. Callahan, Divilio and Pack do. Councilmen even unwilling to hear a citizens’ petition without a lawsuit compelling them to do so. Councilmen who seem to back almost every money-making idea that will hurry Talbot away from the vision in our Comp Plan of a rural community able to prosper and still retain our unique quality of life.
Fifteen candidates are running for Talbot County Council, yet only two incumbents—Pete Lesher and Chuck Callahan—have track records that can really inform voters’ decisions.
The rest, to most of us, are just names on yard signs. No idea. Never heard of them.
But it is dangerous for citizens, and for the future of Talbot County, if we have to cast votes in a state of ignorance. It’s easy to see how, with a small turnout, good candidates not connected to a support group might not make the cut over candidates allied with the county’s influential and well-established political machinery, or even randomly.
So here is what The Talbot integrity Project (“TIP”) has done about it. A few weeks ago, TIP set up an ad-hoc panel of five people to interview all fifteen candidates, focusing particularly, but not exclusively, on the issues most important to TIP supporters: the unique character of Talbot County; integrity in our land approval processes; and fidelity to the values in our Talbot Comprehensive Plan.
The panel consisted of Steve Harris of Trappe, Monica Otte of St. Michaels, Dirck Bartlett of Bloomfield, Kirke Harper of Claiborne, and Dan Watson who lives in Aveley. We are not allied as friends, but all of us have been involved in one sort of County land use issue or another. The panel included two D’s, two R’s and an “unaffiliated” voter–although not one of us believes that “Political Party” is at all meaningful as regards land use and the integrity of our processes, or most other local issues. (Both Republicans and Democrats—and don’t forget Independents!–are equally upset about Lakeside as a harbinger of Talbot’s future.)
Our panel invited each one of the fifteen candidates to have a roughly forty-five-minute conversation with us to talk about his or her candidacy. Nothing recorded, all informal, a general conversation with an emphasis obviously on “our issues.” We were prepared to do this over six evenings spanning two weeks…so plenty of slots were available. The obvious purpose was to learn enough to form our own opinions, for ourselves and to share with everyone in the community.
Here’s what happened: Ten candidates were happy to meet with us, and indeed, we had a series of very informative and revealing conversations. Forty-five minutes was pretty good—not like spending a weekend with someone, but enough time to get into key issues in depth, triangulate a bit, cover a lot more than just smart growth and the Comp Plan.
In addition to the interview, each of us has read up on what little is available about the candidates and expect to learn more from forums and interviews others might hold, from word of mouth and insights offered by others. Learning about candidates is not an event, it is a process.
What’s great about America is that it’s a free country, and five (5) candidates chose not to talk to us: Bruce Corley, Jimmy Jaramillo, Dave Stepp, Wade Strickland….and the County Council President, Mr. Callahan.
Stay posted: Next week we will be offering our recommendations on this critical Primary Election. We continue to review information we gleaned from the interviews, and are thinking about the best path forward for voters who share our opinion about Lakeside and retaining a rural Talbot County. We believe that’s a big majority, and that we should take back our County!
Finally, if you have any interest in helping The Talbot Integrity Project achieve its goals in this election—the important July 19th Primary and in the General Election three months later, please email email@example.com. Just a couple of hours a week will really make a difference!
The Talbot Integrity Project
Dirck Bartlett, R
Monica Otte, D
Steve Harris, R
Kirke Harper, D
Dan Watson, U