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.
Jessica Laird is running against incumbent Greg Pecoraro, Kate Carter, Steve Colella, Kevin Dayhoff and Ann Thomas Gilbert for one of three seats on the Westminster Common Council. Here are Laird’s responses.
I began my professional life as a designer and enjoyed seven very successful years working in the creative/AEC sector (product, graphic, interior and architectural design). Since that time I have worked in development/fundraising, first as a campaign manager for the United Way, and most recently in the Institutional Advancement Office at McDaniel College. I have been with McDaniel for five and a half years. I do not have any past political experience, but previously served on the Norfolk Environmental Commission’s Green Team (Norfolk, Virginia) and the Economic and Business Development Committee (Auburn, Alabama). My family and I are proud to call Westminster home and have been since we moved here almost six years ago.
Why do you want to serve in this role?
Since the day my family and I moved to Westminster, I knew this city was special and knew I wanted to be a part of the future of this great place. After six years as a proud resident, I am interested in committing my time and putting my unique skillset and passion to work to make a difference. I feel as though I can bring a fresh and unique perspective to the office of Common Council and look forward to working with the Mayor and other members of the Council to continue to work to make this great place even greater.
How do you plan to represent your municipality’s interests in the county government?
I plan to continue to foster positive relationships with the County and work with County Officials in partnership to represent the interests of our great city.
Name something you would begin working to accomplish as soon as your first week on the job.
As a part of my campaign, I have committed to meeting with various residents and business owners in an effort to hear their ideas and concerns to ensure that I can represent those in our community effectively. In my first week on the job (and beyond), I will continue to work to find ways to hear the voices of Westminster and understand the priorities of the community through direct conversations.
The Council is currently working on a number of measures that, most likely, will not be resolved before the post-election transition takes place. I will continue to work to understand those measures in my earliest days on the job to ensure that the work of the previous council is not lost, but also that the final results of that work are the best solution for our community--residents, businesses, and even visitors to Westminster.
What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not?
I have a background in design and planning and am, by trade, a relationship builder. I feel as though that combination will position me to serve this Council and the City in a unique way.
What one thing would you most like to see changed?
I am not a life-long resident of Maryland, or Westminster for that matter, but I am a proud resident of this state and this city. When I hear any negative perception of this great place from people outside of our community, or even from within, I am saddened that our story isn’t always as great as I know this place is. I would love to see Westminster’s reputation elevated to be known as one of the best small towns in Maryland, and to wipe away any negative perception (which means addressing any negative realities). It will take hard work and require some positive changes, but I believe we can get there. I would hope that both the general perception (and the reality) of Westminster could be increasingly positive in all matters allowing our city to become a destination for those outside of the community and residents alike.
What are your campaign priorities?
I am committed to supporting and fostering a community built on transparency that encourages participation among its residents and business owners; your voice matters and I want to hear it. I am committed to supporting and promoting public safety initiatives that will ultimately strengthen our city’s image and our residents’ trust through a variety of efforts including those that increase our recruitment and retention in the public safety sector, showing ultimate support for those who protect our home--this community. And I am committed to the continued strategic growth of a safe and prosperous downtown district that will only strengthen our community. We all love to stroll, but there is so much we can do to make our City an exciting place to be year-round. There are so many things that make Westminster great and I will strive to continue to tell that story and add to it. Communication is key and working together I believe we can make this great City even greater.
What is your position on current Westminster crime, both real and perceived?
As a resident of downtown Westminster, I have an intimate understanding of the perceived crime in Westminster. It is my opinion that the City has come a long way in recent years and is in a relatively good position in terms of crime, but I also believe that we can always do better. Under the leadership of our new Chief of Police, I believe Westminster is in good hands. In the few short months that he has served in this role, Chief Ledwell’s influence has sparked positive, palpable change. I look forward to supporting the work of our public safety sector to continue to move Westminster in an increasingly positive direction and keep the members of our community informed and involved.