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.
Ann Thomas Gilbert is running against incumbent Greg Pecoraro, Kate Carter, Steve Colella, Kevin Earl Dayhoff and Jessica Laird for one of three seats on the Westminster Common Council. Here are Thomas Gilbert’s responses.
Ann Thomas Gilbert
Phone number – 410-596-2890
Social Networking: Facebook page- Ann Thomas Gilbert for Westminster City Council
Marital Status: Married- husband Sam Gilbert
- Carrie Thomas – 28 years old
- John Thomas- 24 years old
- Step Children- Alex Gilbert- 25 years old and Samantha Gilbert – 22 years old
Political Affiliation- this is nonpartisan but Republican
Profession: Adult Service Case worker for the Carroll County Department of Social Services
Years Experience- 20+ years
- McDaniel College- Master of Science in Counseling Education; May 2009
- University of Maryland Baltimore County, Bachelor of Arts; 1989
Community Groups involved in:
- Member of the Public Safety Advisory Council
- Secretary of the Veterans Independence Project
- Member of Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster
- Member of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce
- Member of the Carroll Leadership Class of 2012
- Member of the Healthy aging Leadership Team
Past Political Experience: None
Years lived in Westminster: 53
Why do you want to serve in the role?
I care about our community and I care about the direction our community will go in the future. I think I would make a positive contribution to ensuring there is a good quality of life in Westminster.
How do you plan to represent your municipality’s interests in the county government?
Westminster is unique as we are the “county seat”. All of our community services are located in our city. Ensuring residents have access to reliable transportation and needed services regarding safety (ie., fire, police) are essential in ensuring our interests and needs are known to county officials. Since many programs are housed in Westminster routine meetings with county and state officials should be expected.
Name something you would begin working to accomplish as soon as your first week on the job?
I believe as a new employee in any position the first responsibility is to acquaint ourselves in our roles and with the employees of the city. I have been attending most all the city council meetings for the past several years and have met with the council members and mayor. There are things I am sure I am not aware of and will learn. These are all issues of acquiring a new position. However, two things I would like to address is (1) promoting Main Street development (2) working at finding new ways of addressing homelessness/mental health issues and drug addiction in our community.
What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not?
I believe all of the candidates offer our own unique set of skills. My experience working as an Adult Protective Service worker and previously as a Work Program Job Developer for Social Services, puts me in a unique position to observe the impacts of homelessness and drug addiction on our society as a whole. The training and insight I have allows me to better understand and ideally address these issues. I feel my ability to be action oriented, work under stress, multi task and be a team player is of the utmost importance.
What one thing would you most like to see changed?
I am not sure I would say change, as much as improve. I believe we can improve on the economic development of Downtown Westminster. We need to address vacancies, encourage new business development and support current businesses and their needs. In support I would like to see an upgrade in zoning laws and encourage home ownership instead of rental units in our historic downtown homes. I would like to see a thriving Main Street similar to the one that existed 30 years ago. I believe I would offer a different perspective.
What are your campaign priorities?
1. Public Safety. Public safety is a multifaceted issue that needs to be addressed more vigorously and with greater focus. Improved public safety includes efforts to reduce the sale and use of drugs, developing options for our homeless population and addressing crime and mental health issues. Supporting our local police department as they work with other law enforcement officials to address the issues that have and will arise in our community is vital to our success. Continuing to work the Carroll County drug task force and states attorney’s office on a city level is imperative. An additional key to this issue is collaboration with our service agencies, law enforcement and judicial system more. We need to seek their suggestions and input, educate all involved and brainstorm on solutions that fit our community. Partnering with local colleges, the health department, and local agencies to expand services will help to address these issues. Offering more downtown family activities such as the successful Flower and Jazz fest, the wine stroll, and concerts in the park will increase exposure to all the city has to offer and will create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. We need to encourage more involvement of residents and businesses so that we can work together on the goal to make Westminster a safe community. By sharing our ideas and resources we can progress toward a safer, more attractive community.
2. Economic Development. A current issue that needs attention is economic development. We need a dedicated position in our city that focuses specifically on economic development. As a city we need to focus on bringing in businesses that want to be a part of the downtown Westminster community. We need to address the ongoing vacancies, and support those businesses and owners who have been a part of our community for years. This can be achieved by attracting young new professionals. In the technology driven world of today, Westminster has prepared itself to be in a proactive position and be in the forefront of this increased development. The access we have to Ting, a state-of-the-art fiber network, can continue to be used to attract new business and create jobs is an effort that still needs to be supported. By fostering a business-friendly atmosphere, we will stimulate economic growth. This accompanied with previously mentioned efforts to support law enforcement in keeping crime low and reduce the sale of drugs will make the downtown area safer and more appealing for economic growth.
3. Communication. Improvement is needed regarding communication between the city administration, the council and the citizens of Westminster. To do this we can begin to broadcast council meetings on local programming or simply offer live streaming videos. we can also update our web page and offer informal activities that enable communication with citizens; such as scheduled walks in neighborhoods, meet and greet sessions or coffee hour at local restaurants or businesses. This will allow us as representatives of our city to hear our concerns and feedback. I also believe that instituting term limits on elected city officials will encourage more citizens to think about running for positions and therefore lead to new ideas. Together, new ideas, voices, and perspectives will help guide us as we work to enhance Westminster as an exciting place to live, work, and play.
What is your position on current Westminster crime, both real and perceived?
Public safety should always be front and center to any councilperson. I am excited about Chief Ledwell and the new ideas and thoughts he has. He has begun restructuring and reorganizing. I believe he will bring a new culture to our Police force and that through new policing issues will be addressed. Westminster is finding that like many cities drugs and mental health are the key issues that are driving the crime that does occur. It is these issues along with community perception that needs to be addressed. Crime statistically has remained relatively low however the perception of crime has increased. Ensuring we are effective and efficient with all the resources at our disposal and communicating to our citizens is essential to working on both real and perceived crime.