Westminster Common Council candidate: Kevin Dayhoff

Westminster Common Council candidate: Kevin Dayhoff
Kevin Dayhoff is running against incumbent Greg Pecoraro, Kate Carter, Steve Colella, Ann Thomas Gilbert and Jessica Laird for one of three seats on the Westminster Common Council. (Kelly Heck Photography/Courtesy photo)

Ahead of this spring’s municipal elections, the Carroll County Times has asked candidates to provide information on themselves and their priorities. Their responses are listed here in full.

Kevin Dayhoff is running against incumbent Greg Pecoraro, Kate Carter, Steve Colella, Ann Thomas Gilbert and Jessica Laird for one of three seats on the Westminster Common Council. Here are Dayhoff’s responses.

Biographical information

I am a life-long writer, photographer, artist, and historian. I am a retired farmer - I worked 25 years as a nursery stock farmer, landscape designer and contractor and property manager. I served two years as a Westminster city council member from 1999-2001, and then four years as the mayor, 2001-2005. In December 2008, I became a founding partner in Off Track Art, an artists’ cooperative at 11 Liberty Street in historic downtown Westminster, and remained involved until 2013.

Since 2004 I have worked as a freelance journalist for various publications including the Baltimore Sun Media Group. I am currently on leave while I run for election. I currently write about our local history and community, but in the past I have covered ‘cops, courts, and crime,’ politics, and local, state and national government.

I attended Carroll County Public Schools from 1959 through graduation from Westminster Senior High School in 1971. I attended Elon College, NC, 1971-1973, studying political science and religious studies and serving in the United State Marine Corps Reserve. I dropped out of college in 1973 with no degree. I have since attended Towson University in 1980, and McDaniel College 1999-2001, studying political science and business administration, without completing a degree. I graduated from the University of Maryland Academy for Excellence in Local Government. I have taken numerous classes in government, chaplaincy, public information, business, and aspects of fire department administration.

I am the Chaplain for the Westminster Fire Company and Maryland Troopers Association Lodge #20. A Public Information Officer of the Westminster Fire Company. I am an active member of Grace Lutheran Church - I just completed two terms on Church council, serving the last number or years as the council secretary. I also active in the Carroll County NAACP currently serving as the assistant secretary. I am a member of the American Legion, and the Westminster Cemetery Board. I have volunteered for the 4-H Therapeutic Riding Program of Carroll County, the Historical Society of Carroll County, the Westminster Business Association, the Westminster Town Center Corporation, and I served on the board of Junction, a drug abuse prevention and therapy center.

I served on the Westminster Common Council in 1999 and as the Westminster mayor from 2001-2005. Before that I served as an appointed official on a number of local, county, and state boards and commissions since 1978. These include the Carroll County Right to Farm Committee and as chair of the Carroll County Environmental Advisory Council. I was also a member of the Maryland Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee. I was elected to a statewide at-large seat on the Maryland Municipal League Board of Directors from June 2000 to May 2005 – and served on the Maryland Municipal League’s Legislative Committee. I served as the secretary treasurer of the Carroll County Chapter of the Maryland Municipal League 1999-2005. I served on the Carroll County Committee for Charter Government from February 1990 – June 1991.

I am a Westminster native. I was born and raised in Westminster and have lived in the area all of my life. My ancestors have lived in the Carroll County – central Maryland area since the 1700s.

Why do you want to serve in this role?

I would like to take another turn working for the community in City Hall. I love Westminster. I know the community, its citizens, its history, and traditions – and have a keen eye for some future changes. I offer experience, energy, accessibility, vision, a fresh perspective, new ideas, and fiscally prudent and socially responsible leadership. I am convinced I can make a contribution and make a difference.

I served as the Westminster mayor and councilmember from 1999-2005. I think I did a good job. I am a retired farmer, business owner, historian, fire and police chaplain, artist, and writer. I would like to roll up my sleeves, work hard, put all those experiences to work and do it again.

Our current leadership has done a good job. I would like to build upon all their hard work and successes. However, at the same time, I'm concerned that in some ways, the city lost a little of its focus and needs to get back to basics. Especially when it comes to supporting public safety – the fire company and the police department.

How do you plan to represent your municipality’s interests in the county government?

I have worked with – and have made friends with - much of the county and state leadership. I like working with these folks. Whether we agree or disagree upon some of the issues - we like working together to make things happen.

I am active in the community. I think we can build upon these relationships to make things happen for Westminster, Carroll County and the other municipalities in the county. I am really excited about the possibilities.

Name something you would begin working to accomplish as soon as your first week on the job.

I would like to emphasize the city’s efforts to better communicate with our citizens – especially with social media and new technologies. Bad information fills a vacuum – and I feel the city needs to step up its game at getting information out to folks as to what is happening in the community. I like to write and I am looking forward to getting to work at better communicating with folks.

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not?

I am an historian and a writer. I have served as an appointed and elected official since 1978 – and I have previously served as a Westminster elected official. I have a through working knowledge of the history and traditions of the City of Westminster, its government, the leaders that have gone before us and first-hand insight as to why they did the things they did – and when they did them. I grew-up in town and witnessed most of the improvements in the infrastructure in town that we take for granted these days. I enjoy thinking out of the box – and bringing new ideas and fresh perspectives forward.

What one thing would you most like to see changed?

Revitalizing historic downtown Westminster. We have so many opportunities. I would like to see more police officers walking downtown. I look forward to closely with our county and state partners for the best interests of Westminster. Concurrently I would like to aggressively address supporting the city’s employees – especially the fire, police, and street departments - by getting their feedback, empowering them to make things happen, and reacquainting myself with what matters most and confirming what we need to prioritize.

What are your campaign priorities?

1. Aggressively supporting the Westminster fire, police, and streets department. Many years ago, I once read, “Community policing is rooted in the philosophy of getting officers out into neighborhoods talking to people and helping them with problems.” I could not agree more.

2. Supporting our historic downtown shopping and business district by emphasizing government customer service, empowering city employees, working to continue to attract special events, businesses, more shopping opportunities, and local jobs.

3. Maintain a continued emphasis on municipal and business infrastructure improvements –such as developing more water resources and maintaining our roads, sidewalks, trails – and recreational opportunities.

And not a fourth campaign priority, but a methodology of approach to accomplishing my three priorities: I look forward to working well with our other local, county, and state appointed and elected officials in a collegial non-partisan manner. This is not Annapolis and it is not Washington DC. This is Westminster and Carroll County – and eight municipalities, where we get things done by working well with our friends and neighbors.

What is your position on current Westminster crime, both real and perceived?

It is our town, I think we have a right to feel safe in our own community. We need to seize upon the opportunities and fresh perspectives brought forward by having a new police chief. I think we need to not only address crime – especially petty quality of life crime - with a renewed vigor, but I think we also need to address day-to-day quality of life issues. Better lighting by replacing many of our streetlights with brighter LEDS, more parking, and reminding folks that congregate downtown that with their rights come responsibilities.

Many folks look upon Frederick as a model for future ideas for Westminster. Although Westminster is not Frederick, I agree that Frederick has done many things well. Some folks in Westminster grew-up traveling to Baltimore, or Hanover for certain amenities that a larger – different city offers. My family was Frederick-centric. Our new Police Chief Ledwell once served as the Frederick Police Chief. Let’s give him plenty of room and opportunity to take a fresh look at how we do law enforcement in Westminster.