Election 2019: What you need to know before you vote in Westminster, Hampstead, New Windsor, Union Bridge

The next round of Carroll County residents — in Westminster, Hampstead, New Windsor and Union Bridge — will be voting in municipal elections this week.

Two mayoral offices, in Hampstead and Union Bridge, and at least two council seats in all four jurisdictions are at stake when voters head to the polls Tuesday.


In preparation for Tuesday’s elections, here’s what you need to know about the candidates and some key issues for each jurisdiction.


Six candidates are running for three seats on the Westminster Common Council.


Incumbent Councilman Greg Pecoraro is running for a second term against challengers Kate Carter, Steven Colella, Kevin Earl Dayhoff, Ann Thomas Gilbert and Jessica Laird.

The three candidates elected will serve a term of four years. Mona Becker and Robert Wack, currently on the council with terms expiring, chose not to run again.

Voting will take place from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on May 14, with voters living west of Md. 31 casting their ballots at the community building at 325 Royer Road, and those living east of Md. 31 voting at the Westminster volunteer fire company, at 28 John St.

Public safety, economic development and the proposed plastic bag ban were hot topics at a Wednesday forum for candidates vying for seats on the Westminster Common Council.

At a candidate forum Wednesday, all six candidates addressed public safety as one of the most pressing topics for the city.

Colella said it was not just the actual crime statistics, but “perception and the way that contributes to the story we tell when businesses and residents ask about Westminster.” He supports the idea of a trained public information officer for the police department.

Dayhoff pointed to the concepts of community policing, which aims to solve underlying community problems rather than being reactive.

Gilbert said creative problem-solving is the way forward for public safety in issues surrounding homelessness, drug abuse and mental health treatment.

“All are intertwined,” she said.

Laird said that addressing water issues and promoting downtown economic development would have positive effects on concerns about safety issues both real and perceived.

“Less crime happens when more people are around,” she said.

Carter said that public safety is a huge issue and an accumulation of things — not just one solution is what is needed.

Six candidates are running for office in the City of Westminster’s upcoming municipal election. Get to know more about them.

All had praise for steps that police Chief Ledwell, who was appointed last year, has taken.


Economic development was another hot topic at the forum.

Frequent, viable projects and events can help change attitudes and habits, Dayhoff said. The city has a strong restaurant base that traces back to horse-and-carriage days, he said, and that is one of the assets the city should capitalize on.

Gilbert called for a new position in the town staff focused on economic development and marketing.

Carter spoke about revitalizing the Greater Westminster Development Corporation, a group that had been active in the mid-’90s but no longer meets. That said, she also wants to make sure that growth is carefully regulated to prevent overcrowding.

From talking to business owners in the city, Laird said, their voices need to be heard, even if some cannot vote in Westminster because they live outside the city. A listing of all local businesses on the town website would be a good place to start, she said.

Colella said that the Main Street approach to economic development is one that has proven effective in many other communities. A key element of growth is making sure that there is housing that people in their late 20s and 30s can afford.

Pecoraro said, “I think the real solution … is critical mass of people living and working downtown.”

One path was encouraging development of multiuse properties on Main Street that include residences in the upper floors and offices and businesses on the lower levels, he said. Pecoraro wants to see people living on Main Street with the ability to live a “Main Street lifestyle” where they can walk to businesses and restaurants.

At a public hearing this week, debate about the proposed ban on single-use plastic bags within the city of Westminster centered on how to balance helping the environment and preventing harm to small businesses.

The day before the election, the current council passed a proposal to ban businesses from distributing single-use plastic bags, with some exceptions. Ahead of that vote, all six candidates weighed in on the topic at the forum.

Five of the candidates supported the proposed ban, including Pecoraro, who is a co-sponsor of the ordinance.

Colella was the sole voice of dissent against the ban in its current form.

“I am 100% in agreement about my support for environmental conservation and stewardship,” Colella said. He claimed that bans of plastic bags in one area can cause “leakage,” meaning that a decrease in the use of single plastic bags could be tempered by a resulting increase in the use of larger plastic garbage bags. He also said there could be an increase in food-borne illness if single-use plastic bags are not used in situations where food is handled.

The entirety of the two-hour forum, sponsored by the Community Media Center and the Times, can be seen at the media center’s website, www.carrollmediacenter.org.


Hampstead’s election features a two-person race for mayor, as well as a contest between five candidates seeking two town council seats.

Mayor Chris Nevin is running for another term, while newcomer Zach Tomlin will seek to unseat him.

Hampstead will have a two-person mayoral race as well as five seeking two town council seats in this spring’s municipal election, which will be held at the town hall on May 14. Get to know more about the candidates here.

Incumbent Councilmen Jim Roark and David Unglesbee will be trying to defend their seats against challengers Tim Babylon, Daniel Collier and Holly Oertel.

Voting will be open Tuesday at the Hampstead Town Hall, at 1034 S. Carroll St., from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


A topic of interest among the candidates is the still-open question of future uses for the former North Carroll High School site.


The school was one of the three Carroll County public schools closed at the end of the 2015-16 school year, but the county government, which owns the land, and the town of Hampstead, which controls the zoning, have been at loggerheads about what to do with the building ever since. The building currently hosts the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy.

Nearly all the candidates have voiced support for the idea of creating a regional sports complex — complete with a turf field that would be the county’s first — at the former school site.

The candidates for office in the upcoming May 14 Hampstead election met at Hampstead town hall Tuesday night for a moderated forum well attended by the public, fielding questions on development, the town’s ongoing Main Street revitalization project and what to do with North Carroll.

“It would attract people from outside of the County in the form of athletic tournaments and in turn would naturally help revitalize Main Street,” Tomlin said of a potential sports complex.

Collier, although he has not expressed opposition to the sports complex idea, said he wants to open up the site to outside bids.

“When you consider other ideas outside of government run projects, you may come up with a better use for the site,” he said.

Another key issue that appears to be more divisive among the candidates is the proposed 250-home Hampstead Overlook development along Houcksville Road.

Babylon, Oertel and Tomlin are all firmly against the proposal. Babylon described it as “the opposite of smart growth,” and Tomlin pointed out that constituents have spoken out clearly against the project.

The Hampstead Planning and Zoning Commission at a public hearing for the introduction of a revised Hampstead Overlook concept plan Dec. 19 suggested that the developer, Florida Rock Properties Inc., and its engineers, take the updated drawings back to Carroll County government for review. 

Critics have feared that the property had been contaminated with dangerous chemicals including arsenic and chlorinated solvents. The developer, Florida Rock Properties Inc., and town officials have pointed to Maryland Department of the Environment-approved environmental tests that labeled the property as safe to build on.

At a December public hearing, an engineer representing the developer presented a revised site plan that adds a second entrance-exit point via Doss Garland Road.

Roark and Collier said they both have major concerns about the proposal — specifically in regard to development safety and traffic — that the developers would need to address.

Nevin emphasized the importance of limited growth, and considers this development progress toward that end.

“We need a mix of housing to keep the people who grew up here, attract younger people from outside of the area, keep those looking for a larger house to raise a family or those looking to downsize so they can stay close to family and friends,” he said. “You can be sure that any development allowed will be well planned, attractive and add to the charm and character of our Town.”

Unglesbee also voiced support for “responsible growth that preserves the character of Hampstead.”

New Windsor

Six candidates are running for three open seats on the New Windsor Town Council in this year’s municipal election.

Candidates have been announced for the upcoming municipal elections in New Windsor and Union Bridge, with candidates running for three open council seats in New Windsor and for two council seats and the office of mayor in Union Bridge.

Incumbents David Hoffman and Kimberlee Schultz will be campaigning to retain their seats against challengers Terry Green, Thomas Frank Gubernatis Jr., William Holl and Michael Zepp.

The third incumbent, Councilwoman Sandee Custen, is not seeking another term. An additional challenger, Michael Scott Barclay, informed the town on May 8 that he was dropping out of the race. Barclay said in an interview that a family medical situation had arisen.

New Windsor will hold its election from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday in the community meeting room of the Carroll County Public Library headquarters at 1100 Green Valley Road — a different location than indicated on voter identification cards.

A key local issue for the town amid this election season is the “pay-as-you-throw” waste collection pilot program, which ends in June. Most candidates say they’re against it.

Gubernatis said he is “not fond” of how the program was implemented. “The assumption that one can simply pay per what they throw across the board is simply not a fair assumption when you take in consideration the additional people needed to put out if they had children in diapers or any other extraordinary circumstance.”

Five of the six candidates looking to fill the three open seats on the New Windsor Town Council appeared at a Thursday forum, ahead of Tuesday's election.

Hoffman said at a Thursday forum that he didn’t vote for the program because they were not ready to implement it for the businesses in town, but he conceded it is possible it could be beneficial depending on decisions the county makes regarding trash removal going forward.

Holl said he strongly opposes the program. “The old system worked, and no increase in residents tax rates are needed to continue with that program,” he said.

Green said at the forum that he is not for the program because the “market for recycling is despicable” but would possibly be for it if the market trends were better.

“I don’t feel [the program] benefits the community at this time, though I support the concept of recycling,” Zepp said, adding that he would support any decision on the program that town residents make.

As the sole voice in support of the program, among the candidates, Schultz hopes to use the program to help residents save money.

Since its launch in early November, New Windsor’s Fair Trash Reduction pay-as-you-throw pilot program, the town has seen overall waste generation decrease by 26%, according to the county Department of Public Works.

“With the pay-as-you-throw, we were given the opportunity to not have a tipping fee, use the money from the waived tipping fee to give the residents the gift cards to buy the bags,” Schultz said at the forum. “Going forward, if we continued the program, we could be saving about $14,000 a year. For a little town like New Windsor, $14,000 is a lot of money. I just felt like it was my responsibility to try to save the town some money.”


When asked at the Thursday forum about the biggest challenge facing New Windsor, all candidates agreed that it’s water and sewer bills.

“So, what we need to look at is how do we lower it, because the water and sewer rates currently are your sole source or biggest revenue for the town, which is set aside to try to repair the infrastructure,” Green said at the forum. “How we get to fixing that is we got to look at what’s the potential of lowering, maybe, a small business tax to attract more businesses to come in and create more revenue. We need to look outside and find more revenue sources instead of having this as the majority of revenue coming in.”

When asked about bringing in more revenue to the town, each candidate had different ideas.

Hoffman mentioned the recent opening of a bar and grill and stressed that they need to look at the Dielman Inn as the economic center of town. Gubernatis wants to reach for outside help. Holl agreed with Hoffman in wanting to see businesses set up at the Dielman Inn site and wants to sell the old town hall building. Schultz brought up the idea of a coffee drive-through window and agreed with the idea of adding a splash park that Green mentioned earlier in the forum.

When asked about the cost of maintaining the Dielman Inn, the historic building that had once been a tavern, all candidates said at the forum that they don’t want to see it razed.

Green, Schultz and Gubernatis were conflicted about what they want to do with the inn because of its rich history, but also want to see growth in the town. Hoffman and Holl want to see it sold to the right buyer.

Union Bridge

In Union Bridge, the mayor is facing one challenger and four candidates are running for two council seats in this year’s municipal elections. Find out more about them here.

Bret Grossnickle will challenge incumbent Perry Jones for the office of mayor.

Four candidates are running for two seats on the Union Bridge Town Council. Bridgette Dowery and Antoinette Farver are challenging incumbents Donald Wilson and Edgar Wentz.

Union Bridge will hold its election from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall, at 104 Locust St.

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