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Hampstead election: Town Council candidates answer questions, ask for votes

The Hampstead election is set for Tuesday, May 11, taking place at Town Hall, 1034 S. Carroll St. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Three Town Council seats are on the line. Diane Barrett, incumbent Wayne Thomas, Zach Tomlin and Benjamin Zolman are the candidates. Their unedited replies to questions emailed to candidates in all municipal elections are printed below.

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Diane Barrett

Diane Barrett
Diane Barrett

Biographical information: I have been a resident of Hampstead since 1992, after growing up in a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I earned my accounting degree from Towson State University and have 30 years of experience in the accounting profession, nearly half of which has been in the property management industry.  I was a community advocate during the appeal against the closure of North Carroll High School.  I served on Hampstead’s Board of Zoning Appeals for two years, and I recently completed the first year of my term on the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

Why do you want to serve in this role? After serving the town as a volunteer, I was honored to be appointed to a succession of roles in Hampstead’s government.  The employees and town hall representatives collectively work together as a great team for the overall betterment of Hampstead, and I’m glad to be part of it.  I would welcome the opportunity to continue serving the town in a more in-depth role.

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What is something you want to begin working to accomplish your first week on the job? The first order of business will be to complete and approve the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  Through prudent planning and spending, Hampstead will continue to maintain one of the lowest property tax rates in Carroll County, while fully providing for our public works and public safety departments.

How has your municipality in particular been affected by COVID-19 and what you like to see done to help in recovery? Through lots of hard work and creativity, most of our local businesses have weathered the storm and adapted to satisfy the ever-changing health mandates. As the economy continues to reopen, a few of the business owners I spoke with recently expressed concerns that they are having trouble finding new employees quickly enough to keep up with the growing customer demand.  When businesses are slow to meet the wants and needs of their customers, the public’s perception of them drops.  Town Hall and the Hampstead Merchants Association have a great partnership.  Together we should collaborate to help these businesses attract quality job applicants who will keep their operations running smoothly.

What is the best thing about your municipality and what is something you’d like to see change? Hampstead is a close-knit community in which neighbors help neighbors, and the residents and business community support each other.  The biggest change I’d like to see is more community involvement.  We have many talented residents with a variety of skillsets that could benefit the town.  I’d also like to see a higher voter turnout on election day.

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not? Through my years of service to the town so far, I have a well-established positive relationship with our team of elected and appointed representatives, town hall staff, police chief, and public works superintendent.  I have also had many insightful discussions with our district’s county commissioner and our resident state delegate.  I collaborate well with others and listen objectively to all sides and facts regarding a pertinent issue before drawing a conclusion or making a decision.

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Wayne Thomas

Wayne Thomas
Wayne Thomas

Biographical information: My name is Wayne Thomas. My wife, Nora Ward, and I live at 1100 South Main Street. I graduated from the University of Maryland College Park in 1983 with a degree in Computer Science. I work for Exelon Corporation as an IT System Engineer. I have six adult children and twelve grandchildren. I first moved to Hampstead in 1991 and was elected President of the Field’s Homeowners Association in 1992. In 1993 I was elected to the Hampstead Town Council. I am President of the Hampstead Train Station Committee, Inc. and the Hampstead Valley Garden Condominiums, as well as a member of the Hampstead Farmers Market Advisory Committee. I chair the Hampstead Tree Commission and host the Hampstead Train Station’s Music in the Park series in the summer. It has been my pleasure to be on the Hampstead Town Council for the past 28 years.

Why do you want to serve in this role? Being on the Hampstead Town Council has given me an opportunity to help shape the future of our Town. Renovating the Hampstead Train Station and repurposing it into a museum and visitor’s center was an extremely rewarding experience. It proved that a small group of dedicated individuals can accomplish a great task. Being a part of the planning for our Main Street Renovation Project and seeing it come to a completion, is a milestone in the revitalization of our down-town. Listening to the citizens and helping solve their issues was very rewarding to me. I want to continue to serve.

What is something you want to begin working to accomplish your first week on the job? As the council member with the most experience, I want to begin helping the two new council members learn the position and assure that they get off to a good start. I championed getting our solar farm that provides 90% of the Town’s power needs. My next challenge is to replace all our old neighborhood streetlights with more economical LED lights. I am always looking for ways to save the Town money. I would like to pick up on our sustainability goals.

How has your municipality in particular been affected by COVID-19 and what you like to see done to help in recovery? The Town’s small businesses have suffered greatly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some businesses have not survived. Our schools have been forced to try to teach remotely. The Town will be getting a few million dollars in COVID Relief Funding. This money can be used to offset the impacts of COVID and for infrastructure improvements. We should use part of the funding to promote our renovated down-town and draw some new businesses to our Main Street. The Town should consider making affordable internet available to the businesses and citizens.

What is the best thing about your municipality and what is something you’d like to see change? We have an award-winning Farmers Market, Public Works Department, and Police Department. Hampstead has been named the “Best Place to Raise Children in Maryland” and the “Safest Place to Live in Maryland”! Something we should all be proud of. We should work to maintain Hampstead’s small-town atmosphere. What we need is more events to bring people into our down-town, like the Hampstead Train Station’s Music in the Park series. We need to tell the world that “Hampstead is a Great Place to Live and a Good Place to do Business”.

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not? I have received the Degree of Fellow from the Academy of Excellence in Local Governance. The Academy voluntary certificate program is a collaborative effort involving the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), the Maryland Municipal League (MML), the Local Government Trust (LGIT), and the Institute for Governmental Service and Research (IGSR) of the University of Maryland College Park, which serves as the program administrator. I have served on the Hampstead Town Council for 28 years and attend training courses every year to stay on top of changes in Maryland and Federal laws that affect local government and explore new and innovative ways to execute the job of an elected official.

Zach Tomlin

 
(Zach Tomlin/Courtesy photo / BSMG)

Biographical information: My family has been in Carroll County for over four generations. This is where I am from. I started a computer repair business in Westminster, MD when I was 26. I am proud to say that we have been serving the community for eleven years. Giving back every step of the way. If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website at www.zachtomlin.com.

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Why do you want to serve in this role? I want to help inspire a younger generation to become involved in civil service.

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What is something you want to begin working to accomplish your first week on the job? Introduce myself to every employee of the Town. I want to ensure they know that they can come to me with any ideas or concerns. The best place to start gathering information is from the people on the front lines.

How has your municipality in particular been affected by COVID-19 and what you like to see done to help in recovery? During COVID-19, I saw the community come together in ways that I would never have imagined. I would like us to carry that mentality into the future. Lend a hand when we can help a neighbor. Build each other up, instead of tearing each other down. I have seen what we can accomplish when we come together.

What is the best thing about your municipality and what is something you’d like to see change? The residents of Hampstead come together. Always. I would like to see us drastically improve our access to high-speed internet service providers.

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not? I am an Entrepreneur and a Cybersecurity Professional. I am also a Solutions Architect for many small businesses both locally and internationally.

Ben Zolman

Ben Zolman
Ben Zolman

Biographical information: I’ve lived in 9 different states but I claim that I grew up in a small town of 2,600 people in the panhandle of Nebraska. I’ve lived in Hampstead for just over a year and a half with my family and we love it here. I’m married to my dear wife Jenny, and we have two beautiful little girls. I work as an Estimator for a prominent commercial developer in Milford Mills, MD. This my first time serving in a municipal position.

Why do you want to serve in this role? I want to serve on the Town Council because I want to give a fresh perspective as a newcomer.  I also want to keep up the work of those before me and maintain Hampstead as a beautiful safe place to raise my family.

What is something you want to begin working to accomplish your first week on the job? I know the Town Budget and the Comprehensive Plan need to be approved shortly after being elected so I’ll be helping getting that done right away.

How has your municipality in particular been affected by COVID-19 and what you like to see done to help in recovery? We have some vacant retail and office spaces that need filled due to the pandemic. I’d like to see the Town Council work with the Chamber of Commerce to help them promote new businesses coming in, and assist them in any other ways possible.

What is the best thing about your municipality and what is something you’d like to see change? I love best the culture of Hampstead. Everything that makes the culture to me is the small town feel, the charm, the clean streets, the Town events, the small businesses, the parks, and most of all the people.

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not? A lot of what the Town Council does deals with the town budget, planning and zoning, public works, water quality and conservation. Having worked in the construction industry for over 10 years, and having a Civil Engineering degree from Virginia Tech, I’ll be able to hit the ground running and give good insight in these areas. Every project that I managed, or helped manage, was delivered on time, on or under budget, had zero safety incidents, and was completely with high quality of workmanship. I believe I’ve had this success because of good communication and team collaboration. I’ll do my best to bring that to the Town Council as well.

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