What started as an interest in improving the permits and inspections process for Talbot County businesses, led local builder Chuck Callahan of Easton to run for a seat on the Talbot County Council in 2014. Callahan, age 55, serving his second term of office, was recently elected as President of the Talbot County Council.
“My passion for small business in the County is strong. I first got involved with local government after my partner and our company’s CFO, Julie Fickes encouraged me to run. I hoped to offer a building contractor’s perspective on the permits and inspection process, hoping to improve upon it. I realized I could be a voice for local business and my initial goal was to represent the local business on the Council,” Callahan comments.
Callahan is the owner of West and Callahan, Inc., a custom home and home remodeling company that got its start in 1969 when “Pee Wee” West and Charlie Callahan, Callahan’s father, decided to join forces. Chuck Callahan took over the business in 2002 and has been running it ever since. He also owns two other companies – Eastern Millwork, specializing in custom cabinetry, windows and doors, and Energy Savers, a home energy audit company.
“I love the people in this County and the lifestyle here. It is laid back,” comments Callahan who was born in Easton and has remained here. His family roots go back several generations.
“As an elected official, it’s important to preserve this quality of life. I love working with the County staff to accomplish this. I think we have some of the region’s best employees working for Talbot County government.”
While during his first term, Callahan reports that he spent his time “learning the ropes” of being a council member. He adds, “I spent most of my time listening. I was elected to listen to all sides of the issues and to have an open mind.”
He likens his transition from business owner to elected official to building a house. He states, “You have to set a foundation first before you can find solutions. This means meeting people and listening to their points of view. I want people to trust that I will find solutions to the issues the county is facing.”
One of Callahan’s passions is education. Having graduated from Easton High School, where he took vocational classes in automotive mechanics and the building trades, he believes in career technology and has fought to keep it in the schools.
“I wanted to be sure there were offerings in the schools to build skills that graduates could rely upon as they became adults,” Callahan comments.
Another of Callahan’s passions is community service. He is a life member of the Easton Volunteer Fire Department, with more than 30 years of service; a member of Easton Elks Lodge #1622; and a member of the Easton Rotary Club. He was a youth ice hockey coach for many years and during his tenure as head coach for the Easton Ice Hawks, the team won the 2011 Capital Beltway Hockey League Pee Wee Lower A Division Championship. Over the years, he helped to coach his two sons, Cole and Chuck, both of whom attended Talbot County Public Schools.
“I love challenges and making decisions. I am about fewer words and more action. I especially enjoy helping people,” states Callahan.
Callahan reflects on the County’s role during the coronavirus pandemic, commenting, “To be a part of the efforts to help our citizens during this crisis has been very fulfilling. With the CARES Act funding, our staff, working with partner agencies, was able to help 200 people get help with their rent payments and mortgages, as well as assisting numerous small businesses including restaurants and hotels. That is significant.”
“During my second term on the Council, I am more comfortable with the process. Being in government has taught me patience in achieving goals while listening to people and engaging in conversation on all sides of an issue. Learning the craft of leadership also involves building trust and consensus on the Council. We are all different people with different perspectives,” Callahan comments.
“I never thought I would be on the Council, let alone be the President. I love the challenge and I have gotten one. I have a chance to make a real impact in this county and I am very grateful for the opportunity.”