Carroll countians will be voting in municipal elections throughout much of May, starting with Taneytown, Mount Airy and Sykesville.
Taneytown and Mount Airy voters will head to the polls Monday, May 6, and Sykesville voters will follow on Tuesday, May 7.
In preparation for next week’s elections, here’s what you need to know about each race.
In Taneytown, Mayor Jim McCarron is running for a fourth term, while current Councilmen Bradley Wantz and Donald Frazier, as well as former Councilman Paul Chamberlain, will seek to unseat him.
Both Wantz and Frazier would have been up for re-election to continue serving on the Taneytown City Council. But because they are running for mayor, two seats are opening on the council, and three men — Barry Guckes, Daniel Haines and Darryl Hale — are running for those two seats.
At an April candidate forum, questions and discussion covered such topics as economic development, what to do about dilapidated buildings on Main Street and how to approach the process of hiring a new police chief — after former Chief William Tyler pleaded guilty to federal machine gun charges.
On the question of how to handle the police department — and, in particular, whether to conduct an open search for a new chief, or perhaps promote the current acting chief, Lt. Jason Etzler, to the permanent position — many of the candidates were critical of the city’s decisions while praising police themselves.
In their responses to a question from the Times about the police chief position, the candidates were divided on how they’d like to see the hiring process move forward.
Haines advocated for considering Etzler, who has the public support of the department’s officers, for the permanent position. Hale wants to see the department fill the position from within as soon as possible, “pending a clean bill of health from an outside law enforcement agency.”
Frazier said he wants to hire a chief from outside the city, “in order that the citizens could feel confident there was no type of cover up.”
Guckes, McCarron and Wantz said a new chief should be selected based on who is the most qualified, regardless of whether they come from outside Taneytown or within. Chamberlain wants to see “a proper and thorough review” of the department before moving forward with a hire.
When asked about the proposal to create a Civil War memorial in Taneytown, some the candidates said they were open to it, while others made clear they are against it.
Frazier said he believes a memorial could be a boost for tourism and economic development in the city. Although details still need to be hashed out, he said, it’s an idea worth pursuing.
Haines and Wantz spoke against the idea. Wantz said he has spoken out against the memorial for various reasons and called it “a catalyst for controversy that the city is smart to avoid.” Haines described the current proposal as “a historical stretch” and said he thinks Taneytown is not the most appropriate place for such a project.
McCarron said the proposal is not a priority. Chamberlain, Guckes and Hale refrained from committing to a hard position for or against.
On the topic of fixing dilapidated or vacant buildings in downtown and the connection with economic development, some candidates offered specific suggestions at the forum.
Haines suggested the town could use dedicated building inspectors and should “give private building owners incentives to make their buildings not so vacant and dilapidated.”
Hale, along with Wantz and McCarron, suggested improving the city’s building codes and making use of grants when they are available.
Also at the forum, a member of the audience asked the candidates about thousands of dollars in city expenditures resulting from disputes that have been tied to Frazier and his supporters. Each of the seven mayoral or city council candidates, with the exception of Frazier, responded by decrying the need to have spent that money.
Frazier pushed back at the forum against the cost figure attributed to him, calling it “propaganda.”
The election will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 6, at the Taneytown Police Department at 120 E. Baltimore St.
Until Thursday night, four candidates were running for three open seats on the Mount Airy Town Council — until one candidate dropped out of the race.
John Stuehmeier had been running against Karl Munder, Pamela Reed and incumbent Jason Poirier, but Stuehmeier announced on Facebook at 10 p.m. Thursday that he was with withdrawing his candidacy.
Stuehmeier said he will be moving out of town — therefore losing a qualification to be a council member — due to unexpected events in his personal life.
“Over a month ago I began the process of running for the Town Council. There is a common quote, ‘Your life can change in the blink of an eye,’ ” Stuehmeier said in his Facebook post. “In the last several days, I have had several unexpected events occur in my life and well, my life is changing in the blink of an eye.”
The council seats occupied by Bob King, Poirier and Council President Peter Helt are up for election.
With Stuehmeier withdrawing from the race, the three remaining candidates are expected to fill the three open seats on the Town Council.
Munder ran for a council seat in 2017, and Reed is president of the Mount Airy Main Street Association.
A roundtable with the remaining candidates, hosted by South Carroll High School senior Matthew Geiger, covered seven main topics: taxation, alternate methods of revenue generation, trash services, voter turnout, the flat-iron building, Center Street, and population and town growth.
All three candidates agreed they would not currently support a tax raise. They also agree that Center Street should be connected to Md. 27. None of the candidates pledged to support or oppose the implementation of a “pay-as-you-throw” waste collection program inspired by the pilot program New Windsor has implemented.
The candidates diverged slightly on the topic of the flat-iron building, the property wedged between Park Avenue and Main Street. Reed said that if done appropriately, redevelopment of the building could enhance the community. And Munder would like to see the building repurposed, possibly for use among the arts community. Poirier, while interested in memorializing the building in some way, wants to ensure that any changes would not negatively affect residents and Main Street businesses.
This election will be the first in Mount Airy since the creation of the town’s police force. All three candidates expressed satisfaction with the department when asked by the Times.
Voting will be held Monday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company Activities Building at 1008 Twin Arch Road.
Four candidates are running for three seats on the Sykesville Town Council in Tuesday’s municipal election.
They are Anna Carter, Mark Dyer, Jane Mergler and Jeremiah Schofield. Carter is a current council member running for re-election. Three seats are available and will go to the top three vote-getters.
The proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 shows a 31 percent revenue increase. When asked by the Times for their plans on how to use those funds, the candidates had a variety of responses.
Dyer, Mergler and Schofield all named infrastructure spending as an area worth boosting. Schofield specifically called for extra funding for storm water management and street and sidewalk improvements. Mergler hopes to make the town more walkable and better protect against extreme weather such as flooding.
Mergler also said she wants to increase the town’s “rainy day” fund and support an incubator focused on economic development and environmental preservation.
Carter said she wants to see funds used to support public services such as police and public works, noting the 145 new townhouses in Warfield.
In their responses to a question from the Times about the Warfield development, the candidates expressed support for the growth that the project represents, but some cautioned against the town growing too quickly.
Carter said she wants the historical buildings to be revitalized and used, and she wants the developers’ plans to become reality.
Dyer voiced broad support for growth, adding that “We must seek to avoid increasing traffic congestion while adding desired businesses and services.”
Mergler said she wants more information on the project but her “bottom line is that Sykesville needs smart development that brings long-term value to the community.”
Schofield celebrated the potential economic benefits that the new inhabitants of 145 townhouses could bring, but also stressed “the importance of balancing growth within the infrastructural limits of our community.”
The candidates on April 25 participated in a forum in which they discussed their visions for the town, as well as issues including parking, development and local business sustainability.
A top issue that some of the candidates agreed on was the issue of parking and how to fix it. The town currently has five parking lots with more possible space to come.
When asked about their visions for Sykesville, Mergler discussed her hopes of a green town. “I kind of have a vision for Sykesville 2030, and that vision is very much rooted in a low-carbon economy,” she said.
Even though he sees room for growth, Dyer said he believes Sykesville is good the way it is.
Schofield and Carter both want to continue to see people want to visit Sykesville from different parts of Maryland.
Polls open at 8 a.m. Tuesday and staying open through 8 p.m. at Sykesville Town House, 7547 Main Street.
Information from Times reporters Akira Kyles and Jon Kelvey contributed to this report.