Thursday, July 18, 2019, was Jim McCarron Day in the City of Taneytown. In Hampstead too, and Westminster. In fact, mayors from all eight Carroll County municipalities joined in a proclamation honoring the former mayor and councilman in Taneytown, for his more than 30 years of service.
It was an appropriate nod of appreciation to a colleague, according to Hampstead Mayor Chris Nevin.
“Many of us have had the opportunity to serve with Jim for a long period of time. He served as a mentor and you could tell he really cared not only about his town, but the county and the state,” Nevin said. “Jim is just a high-character guy and he deserves the recognition.”
Nevin spoke Thursday evening on his way to a special celebration of McCarron’s service, at the Taneytown Fireman’s Activity Building, where other mayors and area politicians would gather to issue proclamations.
It was originally expected to be a surprise, according to Diane Foster, Taneytown mayor pro tem. “He knows about it but he does not know the magnitude of it,” she said. “When we started it we had no idea who we would get, we were just praying we could get 50 people to show up. We’re up to 80.”
Foster began organizing the event in honor of her colleague and all the help he provided her over the years they worked together.
“He was my, and continues to be my, mentor,” she said. " I’ve been there 10 years and I’ve learned a lot from Jim over those 10 years. And I’m still learning."
In addition to the mayoral proclamation, there was a proclamation by Gov. Larry Hogan, and another by the Maryland Delegation, according to Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-District 5.
“In all my years I have never met a finer gentleman, and I never met anybody who was more dedicated to the people he has represented than Jim McCarron,” Shoemaker said. “Those are, from my perspective, pretty admirable qualities. He’s a fine man.”
McCarron was first elected to the Taneytown council in 1985, deciding to run, in part, because he lived three doors down from a barroom at an old hotel in the city.
“It was a rather rowdy barroom with lots of disturbances at night and people running up and down the street carrying on. Because my proximity to where the bar was, it was disturbing, so I ran to do something about it. As it turns out, my office is in the barroom today,” McCarron said with a laugh. “Funny how that works out.”
McCarron stayed in local politics, winning re-election to the council over the years, becoming mayor pro tem and then mayor in 2007, a position he held until losing the election in May.
“Three terms, 12 years,” he said.
And yet, when McCarron was first elected in 1985, he was a relative newcomer to town, having moved there from the Eastern Shore just two years prior. Politics gave him a way to meet people and learn more about the community, and a focus for his interest in history.
“When I was writing my column for the Taneytown Record, a bi-monthly paper, I would always include a history question for the kids to try to answer,” McCarron said. “That was a lot of fun. Not only did it help promote the history of Taneytown, it helped me learn a lot more about Taneytown, too.”
McCarron loves Taneytown’s old homes and architecture, such as the Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel and the Trevanion mansion.
“Taneytown is a very historic community, we go back a long way,” he said. “I think one of the first things that impressed on me was when we settled for our house back in 1983, my deed included a statement that said I owed the King of England three shillings and sixpence every year. That was kind of fascinating to think my property predated the revolution.”
Politically, however, McCarron said that he is proud of how forward-thinking most of the colleagues he has served with have been. He recalls one of the greatest challenges he faced being a councilman who wanted to pass an English-only language ordinance for the city.
“It got national news media. We had CNN in town and everything else. We were able to kind of fortify the fact that Taneytown is a town for everyone and we’re not exclusive and we’re not trying to hold anybody back or restrict anybody or segregate ourselves from the society in general,” he said. “I think that might be the most proud moment I had, that we were able to turn that challenge away.”
Now a summer into private life, back in the mortgage business, McCarron said he has mixed feelings about not being in office at the moment.
“The longer I am not mayor the better I like it, I guess,” he said. “It’s kind of hard not to be involved in the day-to-day goings-on, but on the other hand, I find I have a lot more time to devote to my business and I like that.”
But will he ever run again?
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“I don’t know. I am 70 years old, I don’t know how much interest I have in running for future office,” McCarron said. “I don’t know if I would or I wouldn’t, but I don’t have any plans of doing anything right now.”