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Hampstead Town Council candidates share vision for town’s future during forum

Four Hampstead candidates are competing for three open Town Council seats. They met for an in-person forum at the town’s government office to tell voters about themselves and their priorities.

Candidates Diane Barrett, current council member Wayne Thomas, Zachary Tomlin and Benjamin Zolman field questions from Seth Shipley, the forum’s moderator.

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In opening statements Barrett said she’s been a Hampstead resident since 1992 and has been employed as an accountant for 30 years. She added serving Hampstead has been her calling since 2015 when North Carroll High School was closed and she and others fought against it. She also serves on the town’s board of zoning appeals and and recently joined the town’s zoning commission. She said she’ll strive to attract new businesses to Hampstead and she fully supports police officers.

Thomas, an IT system engineer, said he adopted Hampstead has his hometown more than 30 years ago. He served on the town’s council since 1993 and said during that time the council has controlled growth, lobbied and received funding for Hampstead bypass, improved the water system, helped Hampstead become more sustainable and renovated the train station to a museum.

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Tomlin, president of Tomlin Technologies, sits on the board for Together We Own It and once sat on the board for MAGIC. He said he’s a fourth-generation Carroll County resident, that he loves civil service and wants to use his skills as a cyber security consultant and engineer to make the town more efficient and protected from cyber threats.

Zolman said he’s from a small town in Nebraska where there wasn’t a lot to do besides going to the lake and the swimming pool. He said he was impressed with Hampstead’s small town feel and revitalized Main Street. As a council member, he said he would want to keep the small town vibe.

Shipley asked the candidates about their vision for Hampstead’s future.

Candidates for Hampstead's town council met April 29 for a forum where they answered questions about how to run the town.
Candidates for Hampstead's town council met April 29 for a forum where they answered questions about how to run the town. (Screen grab)

Barrett suggested more mixed use properties, and mentioned the expected funding for Memorial Park where more people can gather and bring foot traffic to businesses.

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Thomas said a more active downtown would be his goal. He also mentioned more business, housing opportunities and updates to the park. He added the town is looking at how to spend COVID relief funding on infrastructure projects.

Tomlin said he agreed with Thomas and Barrett. He also said he would go to different towns and encourage them to invest their money in Hampstead. And he would not want the town to become too overpopulated. But his biggest goal is improving the internet.

Zolman said they definitely need to look at transportation and how to manage traffic after mentioning a development that would bring in a few hundred homes. He also mentioned updating the low-income homes and maybe providing some more.

After a question on police reform, Thomas said Hampstead police are already wearing body cameras and the department will continue receiving funds needed that allow them to get the job done.

Tomlin said he isn’t a fan of Maryland’s legislation on police reform. “I feel like they’re taking a hash where they need a scalpel,” he added. Tomlin said he’s worried about how they will continue doing their job with the new legislation, but the biggest worry is retention. He noted the city is competing with other counties that can pay police more.

Zolman also said retention will be difficult as well as recruitment. He suggested getting police to interact more with the community so people will be used to seeing them in public spaces.

Barrett said she thinks its important for the public to know how much training officers receive.

“There’s a misconception out there that police get their initial training and that’s it,” she said.

Barrett added the officers receive wholistic training and she doesn’t see police reform legislation changing the good work the department is doing.

Shipley noted that Tomlin ran for mayor two years ago and shared negative opinions of the town’s government before asking how he will earn the public’s trust and what experiences qualify him for the town council position.

Tomlin said he’s been impressed with what the town has done and everything he wanted to see happen when he ran, happened. Tomlin also noted all the volunteer work he did and starting his own business.

“What qualifies me to be a leader? I almost look at that question as if people aren’t doing their research at all,” he said, adding that two minutes doesn’t give him enough time to go over everything.

Zolman said he moved to Hampstead in September 2019 and noticed how clean it was and how people wave. He added he’d like to keep it that way. What he would be interested in changing, though noting that it would cost a couple million dollars to do, is putting the power lines underground.

“To me, it might be worth the effort to go ahead and do that if we can find a creative way,” he said.

Barrett noted her time on the board of planning and zoning and how everyone gets along even when opinions differ. Her biggest takeaways from living in the city are the people and businesses.

“And I really enjoy learning from the public and what their views and visions are,” she added.

Thomas said after 28 years on the council, he did not agree with everything that was presented to them. However, he does make sure it’s legally correct.

“I may not agree with what you’re passing but I’ll make sure it’s right,” he said.

Thomas added he’s learned a lot over the 28 years and he wouldn’t be running for another four if he didn’t find it rewarding.

For the last question, Shipley asked where they stood on residential growth.

Thomas said as long as the infrastructure supports it, they should grow. Tomlin said he does not like seeing residential growth at all. Zolman said he appreciates growth as long as there is a comprehensive plan. And Barrett said some residential growth is needed; that it has been stagnant for years and as the community ages, more housing is needed.

The forum can be viewed in its entirety on the Community Media Center’s YouTube channel.

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