I have just filed my petition to be placed on the ballot for the Ward 3 seat on the Easton Town Council. My goal if elected is to work for sensible growth that retains the singular quality of life that we treasure here. By “sensible” growth I mean growth that is planned with the objective of retaining Easton’s special character: a small town surrounded by attractive farm fields and forests and close to a magnificent body of water. I believe that growth should be managed so that it does not just add numbers, but also enhances the quality of life of those who live here.
This is a tough test. Two proposed developments, both along the Oxford Road, fail it. One would be located next to the Easton Club, whose residents have made clear their position that the ill-conceived and monstrous health spa would harm their neighborhood environment and adversely affect their property values. Equally unacceptable is the Poplar Hill development on the opposite side of Oxford Road, with 456 residences, 60,000 sq ft of commercial and retail space, a sports complex and even a fire department substation. All this blighting the scenic corridor leading to Oxford and creating intolerable congestion at the intersection of Oxford Road and the Easton bypass.
It was great news that the Town of Easton obtained a grant to save a nearby 200 acres of woodland on Oxford Road from developers and make it into a park. We need to follow up by putting limits on these two projects on the same corridor, as well as others that are too big, too dense or too disruptive.
Within the core of Easton – the island between Route 50 and the Easton Bypass — there is ample space for incremental residential growth. That is where we should be encouraging developers to work. In and near downtown is also the place for retail establishments serving our community. We do not need more big-box stores in Easton. They drive existing retail stores out of business. We need to retain what we have and increase the number of “Main Street” establishments in and near downtown to maintain Easton’s unique character. This combined with incremental increases in nearby housing would achieve the goals of mixed-use and walkable development.
My training as an economist and experience in government and the private sector can help our Town as we try to keep taxes low in new economic conditions of inflation and rising interest rates. I am a strong advocate of fiscal responsibility and understand what it takes.
We are very fortunate that Easton has enjoyed a AA bond rating for many years. Our challenge is to keep it at that level while maintaining our current tax rates. Above all, new developments should pay the full cost of additional town services they require, so that new development does not become a burden on existing taxpayers. We must not borrow to meet current expenses, only for specific projects to spread their tax impact over the life of the project. And we must make all new spending pass the test of providing benefits greater than its cost.
I have always been a strong supporter of our police and earned the endorsement of County Sheriff Joe Gamble in the County Council election. I believe the most critical step to maintain public safety is adequate pay and benefits. We also need to intensify our efforts to protect our young from addictive drugs, starting with a moratorium on marijuana sales like those implemented in Oxford and St Michaels. It is totally out of character for Easton to become the hub of marijuana sales for the County.
I have had extensive experience at the highest levels of government and I am dedicated to this community. My wife Esther and I are active in Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church and have lived in Talbot County for almost 30 years, Easton for 4 of them. During that time, we have built friendships and found service opportunities throughout the community.
During my government career, I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy and Assistant Director of the Congressional Budget Office. As a consultant, I advised the Boards of Directors and senior management of the world’s largest energy concerns and testified before Congress over 30 times. I have a PhD in economics and at various times, I have scrutinized budget proposals, evaluated tax policies, and analyzed impacts of development on local communities.
I believe that this experience will allow me to make a difference in Easton. I look forward to talking to many of you in the next month, and hope you will vote for me to secure the future of our town. To find out more, check out my Facebook page Montgomery for Easton, or email me at [email protected].