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Mount Airy election: Mayoral, Town Council candidates offer answers

The Mount Airy election is set for Monday, May 3, taking place at the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Department Reception Hall at 1008 Twin Arch Road, Mount Airy, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The position of mayor and two Town Council seats are at stake. Larry Hushour and incumbent Patrick Rockinberg are running for mayor; Stephen Domotor, Lynne Galletti and Heather Hobbs are running for the council. Their unedited replies to questions emailed to candidates in all municipal elections are printed below.

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Mayoral candidates

Larry Hushour

Larry Hushour
Larry Hushour

Biographical information: After graduating high school, I was fortunate to receive an appointment to the US Naval Academy in 1983, where I earned a degree in Economics. From USNA, I was selected for aviation training in Pensacola, FL. For the next 20 years I flew the E-2C Hawkeye, a carrier based “airborne early warning” aircraft. Most notably, I flew during the Gulf War and immediately after Hurricane Katrina performing Search and Rescue Operations for several days. I also flew countless counter narcotics missions over Central America until leaving active duty.

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In 2000, I was hired by an airline but continued in the Navy Reserves until 2007. Mary and I moved to Mount Airy shortly after leaving active duty. Before long I became active on the town’s Recycling and Sanitation commission. I was also a Scout leader for my son’s and my daughter’s Scout troops. In 2006, I joined the town’s Board of Parks and Recreation and served there as a member and then the Chairman until elected to the Council in 2017. I have spent the last two years as the Council President. I am current in all our town issues and ready to sit at any table and represent Mount Airy’s best interests.

Why do you want to serve in this role? While a Council member, I have focused on bringing money back to Mount Airy in the form of grants and bond funding from the State. I have been instrumental in achieving $1.7 million in funding for town projects. Specifically, these grants are designated for Center Street infrastructure and the expansion of Rails to Trails. But exercising the grants and bonds is sometimes harder than obtaining the funding itself! I feel as Mayor, I will be able to assist our town staff in navigating through the many steps required to utilize the funds and physically achieve the goals of our town’s master plan.

As well, I believe certain projects in our town have been studied, or surveys completed, or plans drafted for many years, but we never quite seem to take these projects to completion. We are at a pivotal point in Mount Airy. We are ready to see some of these items brought to fruition. For example, the Flat Iron building has been discussed for over 60 years. It is time for a new Mayor and the Council, with careful consideration of impacts to our existing businesses, to address this building so future generations are not left pondering the same questions facing us today.

Simply put, I am running for Mayor to help the town achieve results with creative solutions and at minimum impact to the town’s budget.

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What is something you want to begin working to accomplish in your first week on the job? Within the first week, I intend to bring the town staff into town hall, or an outdoor setting, and make sure we start on the same page in terms of organization and communication. I believe the Town Administrator and the Mayor must be in lockstep in the management of staff as well as the projects and objectives of the town. Together as a team, we’ll prioritize our current projects and make sure adequate time is being allowed and reasonable goals, or milestones are established. The Flat Iron building and Center Street development will be high on the list. These issues are talked about every two years while campaigning, but little movement occurs.

How has your municipality in particular been affected by Covid-19 and what would you like to see done to help with recovery? Certainly Mount Airy gained national news when the tragedy occurred at Pleasant View Nursing Home. By June of 2020, 87 positive cases were reported and 28 deaths had occurred. We are still suffering as our strong desire to place this pandemic behind us is continuously interrupted by new cases that snap us back into the unfortunate reality that we are not at the finish line.

When the seriousness of the pandemic hit, an Emergency Response Team was formed. As a member, I provided input as needed and when the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company requested 10 gallons of hand sanitizer, I was able to assist as a liaison to our Rotary Club and the selfless help of our local distillery. Together, we made sure the need was met and my appreciation goes out to the volunteers and the business for making it happen.

The Carroll County Health Department offered several clinics at our local middle school to administer vaccines to our residents. This is greatly appreciated by our community. Once again, the local service organizations, including my fellow Rotarians, rose to the occasion and called hundreds of seniors to ensure they had the opportunity to schedule an appointment prior to opening the registration to all of the public. My hat is off to the Health Department and these service organizations.

I think maintaining Covid protocols for public meetings in town hall is essential and paramount. As well, we, as individuals must continue to remain vigilant and take the necessary measures to bring this pandemic to a close.

What is the best thing about your municipality and what is something you’d like to see change? The best thing about Mount Airy is the community’s willingness to volunteer! As an organizer of workdays on our town’s nature trails, it has been inspiring to see youth groups, Church groups, civic groups and everyday citizens come together in order to create great amenities for the town. And that volunteer spirit goes well beyond trail work! Volunteers improve our parks, help our Main Street Association with the Farmer’s Market and other festivals and routinely fundraise for special initiatives. Volunteers help the Fire Company, the Police Department, and serve on all our town commissions. The people who love our town are the greatest feature of Mount Airy.

We are all blessed to live in Mount Airy. But if I had to choose one thing I’d like to see change in my term as Mayor, it would be eliminating our tendency to “kick the can down the road” on some major issues. Election after election, we discuss the bank building, Center Street construction and the Flat Iron building. Granted, some things are out of our control, but we need to tackle all three of these projects in some manner. Some forward progress is better than no progress at all.

Perhaps, portions of the funding we will receive as part of the American Rescue Plan will serve as a catalyst to make strides on stagnant projects!

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not? I believe my 20 years of Naval Service will offer a fresh leadership style that will be welcomed in town hall in terms of organizational structure and communication. Serving as a Maintenance Control officer of a large department of civilian contractors provided me with solid management experience that I think will translate well to the town staff.

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I also believe my willingness to work with the Frederick and Carroll Delegations will open new avenues of funding for projects within the town. This seems to be an avenue that was underutilized prior to my election to Council. But our town of nearly 10,000 residents deserves to have full representation from our State officials.

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Lastly, I believe I have proven myself as a person able to get things done. I have taken the lead on Rails to Trails, Mackenzie the caboose, the town’s dog park and a historic train signal. Shortly after my 2017 election to Council, the current Mayor called me and I took the lead on acquiring the funding and overseeing the addition of a basketball court for the residents of Twin Arch Crossing and Brittany Manor. I thank those who worked with me on all these projects!

We are truly at a pivotal moment in Mount Airy and I believe now is the time for a new Mayor with an open mind, some fresh ideas and a determined demeanor to step up and guide our town for the next four years. I hope the citizens of Mount Airy provide me the opportunity to serve as the next Mayor of Mount Airy! Please vote “Larry for Mount Airy” on May 3!

Patrick Rockinberg

Mount Airy Mayor Patrick Rockinberg
Mount Airy Mayor Patrick Rockinberg

Biographical information: Raised in Maryland, near the University of MD. I’m a Facility Director. Yes, I’ve been serving as a volunteer for 20 years, for 11 years I’ve been honored to serve as mayor of Mount Airy!

Why do you want to serve in this role? It exciting to work with others and improve the community. It can be and has been exciting!!!

What is something you want to begin working to accomplish your first week on the job? Working with the new Council to help follow our town survey and move forward to address community needs currently in progress.

How has your municipality in particular been affected by COVID-19 and what you like to see done to help in recovery?Besides a huge negative impact to businesses. Actually it has been opportunity to learn so much and will help with permanent improvements!! Odd that a Pandemic can have some positive. We found many opportunities to incorporate permanently. More outdoor dining, more drive up pick ups, more park and outside events, etc. etc. These items will benefit all of Mount Airy for generations!

Few know it, but Messenger our only resource of detailed local info was shutting down due to lack of advertising its Pandemic shutdowns.

I was proud to use this bad resource to actually improve advertising without giving them loans or grants. We promoted advertising where it was needed most! To help the businesses and seniors!!!!! It’s working on all levels.

What is the best thing about your municipality and what is something you’d like to see change? It’s a great community in so many ways, our residents, our population it’s small town, music on Main Street, great Police and Fire Dept., our staff who show their passion (it’s clearly not just a job to them) great events, great parks, the list is incredible. Don’t let everyone know though lol.

Change... hmmm... if we see it we change it immediately!

We do need to make more updates and improvements to Center and Main Street to make it even more amazing!!!

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not? All our candidates have great skills the biggest a willingness to serve.

As Chief Executive and based on my private trade of Facilities my broad and innovative approach to all issues and ability to work with others has worked out great!! The mayor needs to able to help tackle everything immediately be mainly creatively. We’ve had tornadoes, Pandemics and started a new police force, etc.

We had special parades for HS graduation in 2020 first time ever! But they deserved and needed it. Plus I did a special senior outreach with info. they needed and gave them parades.

I’m proud how well we addressed and continue to address and will soon close out the Pandemic and gain in many ways. Come by and see our new Bank Park on Main Street. Our historic ESSO sign hanging on Main Street.

My reason for running again. Is to see the Pandemic through. Ensure we incorporate needs to restore our businesses!! And to ensure cool lessons learned become permanent. I also plan to work with newer volunteers and councilmembers to help plan and establish great future leadership. Depending on what we have learned and new ideas that they bring to the table!

Our Community goal and mine for 20 years now is too maintain a Small Town, with fun events and resources right here in Town!!

Council candidates

Stephen Domotor

Stephen Domotor
Stephen Domotor

Biographical information: My wife and I have lived in Mt. Airy for 27 years and have been blessed to raise our family here. Over these many years I have been very active in our community. For the past several years I have served on the Town’s Growth and Development Task Force, responsible for developing and implementing the Mount Airy 2020 Community Survey. I was proud when the Mayor appointed me to participate on this Task Force because it brought together my professional experience and my passion for the town.

I have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the principles of good governance and volunteerism. I have 34 years of dedicated civil service, first serving at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, then at the U.S. Department of Energy that included serving as the Director for the Office of Analysis, and most recently as an Assistant Administrator and Chief Safety Officer within the U.S. Department of Transportation. As such, I know that safety is “personal” and I will use this caring, safety mindset in serving our citizens.

My dedication to youth organizations includes serving more than ten years in Cub Scout Pack 1191, and later as an Assistant Scoutmaster and the Committee Chair for Boy Scout Troop 460. I serve as a judge in the Gold Star Post 191 American Legion High School Oratory Scholarship Program, and as a canoe guide at the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary on the Patuxent River.

Why do you want to serve in this role? On behalf of the Growth and Development Task Force, I analyzed the 2020 Community Survey results along with historical survey data, prepared the survey report, and presented these to our Mayor and Town Council. As such, I have a deep understanding of our citizens’ views and concerns that impact their daily lives as town residents. I want to now be their voice and see to it that their views and concerns are acted upon. And I want to ensure that their vision for the future of our town is reflected in the revision of the Town’s Master Plan that is now underway. Our residents told us they have been frustrated by the lack of progress the town has made on many of the town’s longstanding issues. I share their frustrations, and commit that I will take the actions and deliver the results they have asked for. I want to ensure that our residents’ wishes are the basis for town decisions.

What is something you want to begin working to accomplish your first week on the job? ·The safety of our citizens and community will be a key priority from day one. I have no pet projects or agendas. My focus will always be on our residents’ concerns and the vision they expressed for Mount Airy:

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· Improving traffic safety on Main Street and in neighborhoods.

· Reducing vandalism of personal property, crime, and drugs.

· Seeking creative solutions for new business growth and improvements for a revitalized downtown.

· Decisive action on longstanding issues such as the future of the Flat Iron Building, Bank Building, and connection of Center Street to Rt. 27.

· Encouraging additional business growth in existing commercial areas.

· Our residents’ strongly held views that residential growth should be limited.

· Increasing nature trails, open space, and other recreational facilities.

· Preserving our town’s historic charm, small town values, and way of life.

How has your municipality in particular been affected by COVID-19 and what would you like to see done to help in recovery? The COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited our ability to gather and enjoy our sense of community spirit. As we move into the summer and fall, we must safely resume our traditional town events such as the fall festival and chili cookoff to name a few, where we can once again enjoy each other’s company and celebrate in our historic, charming downtown. Our small businesses, which are the economic backbone of our town, have been significantly impacted. We must continue to support and nurture the success of all of our small businesses. Also, the 7.9 million dollars in COVID-relief funds the town is receiving can be leveraged to improve the town’s critical infrastructure downtown and elsewhere.

What is the best thing about your municipality and what is something you’d like to see change? The best thing about Mount Airy is our people and heritage. We are hard working, resilient, caring, and avid volunteers within the community. Our town is blessed by its historic charm and small town values. However, many things can be true at the same time. For far too long there has been a lack of forward progress on many of the town’s longstanding issues. I am running for Town Council to preserve our heritage, and to take the actions and deliver the results our citizens have asked for.

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not? As a recently retired scientist and senior executive, I have proven experience in building partnerships and leading change, and the business savvy needed to secure budgets and grants. I treat people with dignity and respect, and listen to all voices and opinions. I lead with integrity and care about the people I serve. My early retirement affords me the unlimited time needed to “be there” for our town residents and dedicate the attention needed to serve them at the highest level on the Town Council.

I am a person who does not seek the limelight, but rather puts his head down and gets results through teamwork and a strong work ethic. I am not limited by “group think.” Rather, I will bring a fresh voice, questioning attitude, and analytical approach for continuous improvement in the Town Council. I will also bring a more holistic, integrated approach to how our town uses various forms of data and information to make decisions. Doing so will result in improved town processes, performance, and outcomes.

In summary, I have the energy, character, and experience to effectively serve our residents, preserve our heritage, and put the vision our residents expressed for our town into action. Please visit steve4towncouncil.com where you can find more information on my background, education, platform, unsolicited endorsements, and videos related to my campaign. Vote for Stephen Domotor on May 3rd.

Lynne Galletti

Lynne Galletti
Lynne Galletti

Biographical information: I grew up in Rockville. I have lived in Mount Airy for over 30 years. I am a teacher for Frederick and Montgomery County Public Schools as well as a Cheerleading Coach at South Carroll High School. I have served as a volunteer in the Town of Mount Airy previously on the Beautification Commission and for the last few years on the Streets and Road Commission, first as the Secretary and currently as the Chairman.

Why do you want to serve in this role? For the last 28 years, I have been volunteering for my children’s schools, drama and sports programs. I have served as an Officer on several nonprofit organizations. I am currently on the Board of Director’s of the Mount Airy Main Street Association. Our town is at a turning point in many aspects. I feel the time is right for me to be able to affect positive change by having a vote at the Council Table and by representing and speaking for the residents of Mount Airy.

What is something you want to begin working to accomplish your first week on the job? I want to jump right in and get my feet wet! I am not a person who stands around waiting for things to happen, I have always been a person who finds a way to get things done. I look forward to working with our amazing Town Staff from the start. I cannot wait to dig right in and find out how we can make some things happen that have been talked about for years like a community center and many other projects.

How has your municipality in particular been affected by COVID-19 and what you like to see done to help in recovery? Our service organizations have taken a hit during the pandemic. We have not been able to have our regular festivals and activities that are so important to fundraising, yet they have had to continue pushing out funds to help our residents and businesses. Our town has done a great job looking for ways to help our residents and businesses during the pandemic. We are slated to receive over $7 million in covid relief funds. I would like to be on the committee or panel that handles those funds so that we can make sure we push out the money to help aid in the recovery process.

What is the best thing about your municipality and what is something you’d like to see change? The best thing about Mount Airy is the small town charm — period! This is the very reason my husband and I chose to move here and raise our 4 children. I have spoken to a lot of residents during this campaign as I have walked the streets and really talked to them and listened to what they have to say and taken it to heart. I agree with so many of them who feel that we do not want to see big changes in our wonderful town. However, there are a lot of things we need to consider in the next few years such as 1. What do we do with the Flat Iron Building? This is a very emotionally charged issue — we need to weigh the pros and cons of all the choices we have been presented, I look forward to hearing the ins and outs of these choices so we can best decide the next course of action. 2. What about Center Street? The Vision Plan? The Master Plan? 3. What about the continued issue of speeding in our town? I also feel very strongly that one of the best things about Mount Airy is it’s citizens. We have some of the most involved and dedicated citizens in our Town! The young people of this town are the future, we need to work to make sure they get more involved in their town

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not? As a Mother, School Volunteer, Teacher, Coach, former business owner and Radio and TV Talk Show Host, former Federal Agent and Town Volunteer — I have spent many years dealing with many different types of people from all socio economic backgrounds. I have always been able to talk to anyone and my door has always been open to listen to other people’s suggestions, ideas, opinions and solutions. It takes a team player to be successful on any Board and especially on our Town Council. I have many years of experience as a team player in all different capacities. This is so important in order to have an effective Town Council that can work harmoniously together for the good of the town and our citizens. I am the candidate that can do that.

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Heather Hobbs

Heather Hobbs
Heather Hobbs

Biographical information: I have lived in Mt. Airy for all of my 46 years, save 7 years in Shepherdstown WV during my undergraduate college days. I returned home to Mt. Airy in 1999 to start my career and raise my family. Upon graduation from Shepherd College in 1999, I started my career as an educator with Frederick County Public Schools. I am currently the very proud principal of Twin Ridge Elementary School and have served in the capacity of an elementary administrator for ¾ of my professional career. I have not served as an elected official in our town, however, I am currently serving on the Mt. Airy Recreations and Parks Board, as well as the Ethics Commission. Previously, I was appointed to the Mt. Airy Recycling and Sanitation Commission.

Why do you want to serve in this role? Mt. Airy is as much a part of me as a family member. I grew up enveloped in the happenings of this town. My childhood was idyllic, so much so that there was no other place that I wanted to raise my own children. However, I see opportunities for progression, and I feel as though I would bring a strong, forward thinking, family centered, independent voice to the council table. I am strongly bound to the three pillars of my campaign, and they are much more than that, these are ideals that I live by everyday as a Mt. Airy citizen and as a servant leader at our local elementary school:

· Leave people and places better than you found them

· Create a community in which our children will return to raise their own children

· To serve through the tenets of shared leadership and involve stakeholders in decision making.

What is something you want to begin working to accomplish your first week on the job? Since I have had the opportunity to move into leadership roles throughout my years as a school administrator, what I know is that in order to accomplish anything, you must first listen to the established members of the group and dedicate yourself to understanding the culture in which you have just entered. So it would be irresponsible and/or disingenuous to state that I would elicit any type of change the first week as a council member. I am humble enough to know that I have things to learn, to seek understanding, to know the story behind the story. I am strong enough to know that I will do so by asking thoughtful, probing, truth seeking questions to those around me. My knowledge of town code is already strong due to my appointment to the Ethics Commission and by the sheer volume of town council meetings that I have attended throughout my life, but you can always do and be better. So continued investigation of town code, the master plan, past surveys, etc., would be something that would be critical research and reading.

How has your municipality in particular been affected by COVID-19 and what you like to see done to help in recovery? There have been so many pieces of my community that I have seen suffer due to COVID. Small businesses and restaurants, community events, carnivals, and fundraisers, a sense of belonging to a community, activities for our children, and the one closest to my heart - the loss of having our children experience school as it is meant to be. In terms of recovery, it is time to open up and invite people to come together again. CDC guidelines are clear, we have been masking and socially distancing for over a year - we know how to do this and do it safely. Creating opportunities for people to safely gather to celebrate being a part of Mt. Airy is a critical facet in rejuvenating our town.

What is the best thing about your municipality and what is something you’d like to see change? Because my heart and my life’s art is all about educating children, I will continue to say that the youth of Mt. Airy are our greatest commodity and therefore deserve our greatest investments. As far as change, I need to see more amenities in our town, more spaces to play, create, learn, congregate - for all ages, abilities, and citizens. It is crucial that we level the playing field for our citizens by offering equitable opportunities for personal growth and expression. This means more meaningful family events, playing fields, performing arts spaces, indoor courts, and accessible, welcoming spaces for folks to gather and celebrate community.

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not? When people meet me, there is no doubting my energy, enthusiasm and love for this town. I often tell people that the work that I do, and hope to do if elected, is my HEARTwork - it truly is. I bring historical knowledge having grown up here, the daughter of a man who served on town council for 36 years, my lens is unparalleled. In my role as a school system administrator, I have years of formal and on the job training in the area of leadership. The art of creating a culture of respect and civility, while garnering results, and my reputation and record in this area of my life is stellar. I know how to inspire people to want to know better in order to do better. Involving stakeholders in decision making and seeking out voices, not just asking for them, is something that I have been taught to do through my leadership studies -this is a crucial asset to my abilities and will serve town council and our citizens well.

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