Three candidates hoping to secure one of the two seats available on the New Windsor Town Council discussed their background, why they deserve to be elected and their hopes for the town at an April 27 candidates forum sponsored by the Community Media Center and the Times.
Kevin Cornick, a member of the planning commission who has lived in New Windsor for some 25 years; Austin Fogarty, a newcomer to politics who have lived in New Windsor since 2013; and William Holl, who grew up in New Windsor and said he has attended nearly every council meeting since returning to town in 2018, are the candidates.
Cornick said he learned from his parents that he should “grow where I’m planted,” and that he views serving the town as his civic responsibility. Fogarty said he wants to bring a commonsense, logical approach to local governance, pledging to be sure citizens’ voices are heard. Holl noted he has already been trying to update citizens about the goings-on at council meetings and that he plans to take a holistic look at issues and understand what every dollar goes to.
The candidates were asked about their top three priorities for New Windsor over the next four years.
Fogarty said financial responsibility, allocation of resources and community engagement were at the top of his agenda. “Information is the key. It brings clarity and calmness,” he said. “I don’t have all the answers right now, but I will find them.”
Holl called community outreach his No. 1 priority, second is planning for the future — “rethinking things, making sure we have a 10-year plan while working on our current budget” — and third would be working with the council to bring a collaborative mindset.
Cornick, in no particular order, said being fiscally responsible, fully committed to smart growth and promoting town beautification through initiatives designed to “uplift and modernize” topped his agenda. He said family-centered activities promoting youth involvement should be pursued and also mentioned “block parties.”
The trio addressed their lack of previous experience on the council and how they would work with the mayor and the council members whose terms run until 2023.
“I’ve been preparing for years,” Holl said, noting that he has made many connections within the council from attending the meeting and that he plans to take all opinions into account, collaborate and pick one plan that helps the most residents.
Cornick said he already works closely with the council, reviews the meetings and asks questions. “Preparedness comes in finding out the facts,” he said, urging town residents to be more involved in the decision-making process and saying there is no problem with getting along as he doesn’t view town council as big government but rather as “the people that live next to me and to you.”
Fogarty said his goal is to work with the mayor and council and to be a liaison to the community. “Wisdom is something you get from knowledge,” he said, adding that if everyone understands the issues, they can be solved through teamwork.
When asked about balancing important projects with fiscal responsibility, Cornick noted that people must understand there will be future spending on initiatives such as wastewater treatment because of government mandates and that he doesn’t plan to “kick the can down the road” because he doesn’t want his grandkids unable to afford to live in New Windsor “because people in my situation made irresponsible decisions on funding.”
Fogarty said it’s not possible to borrow today “and not suffer any consequences in the future.” He said they need to work as a team, fund the projects that are important and, potentially, make sacrifices. He said he wants to work to reduce water rates when the town is able to reevaluate those prices.
Holl said he was concerned after hearing his opponents’ answers “about what we need to spend more on,” saying there is a need to reevaluate what the town is spending money on. ”All these projects are going on, but here’s no clear picture going forward.” He said water rates should’ve been frozen during the pandemic. (Cornick later noted that would’ve saved only $3.25 per quarter for households.)
During every election cycle, it seems, the future of the town-owned, more than 200-year-old Dielman Inn comes up. With a $350,000 grant-funded foundation stabilization project soon to begin, the candidates were asked what they expect for the historic building in the future.
Cornick said he would “love for someone to come in and maintain its historic appearance and connection to the town” and noted he would “like to see businesses inside it that will help accentuate New Windsor.”
Fogarty gave some history on the property, noting that Louis Dielman purchased it in 1864, that it was run by the Dielman family until 1927 and that the town purchased the property in 2011. He said the question is whether to fix it up and rent it out to businesses or fix it up and “flip it.” He said his preference was to continue to own it, if it makes financial sense, and rent it to businesses.
Holl said he wants to see an end goal, a long-term plan for the Dielman Inn for what kind of shops would be in it, where parking would be, etc. They need a concrete end goal, he said, so they can know “what needs to be done in the next five years to get to that goal.”
The long-planned Streetscape project also was also discussed.
Holl said the sidewalks are a mess but that Mayor Neal Roop has been working with the state on funding. “It’s getting closer, he’s making a lot of progress.” Holl said he have split up the project into two states, fixing the sidewalks in the first phase and then moving onto to put in lights “and the rest” in the next phase.
Cornick said everyone is in favor of Streetscape and that it will happen when appropriate funding comes in. And he said it will be great for the town. He pointed to improvements on College Avenue and said that type of improvement could transform Main Street.
Fogarty agreed that the sidewalks are in “pretty poor shape” and that it’s critical to improve the area. “You want to have a town that looks good, is presentable. … Who’s going to want to visit a town that has crappy sidewalks and sewer lines that are bad?”
All three candidates expressed a desire to bring more business to town, though the consensus was that the restaurant situation has vastly improved.
Holl again said he would like to see two or three shops in the Dielman Inn and that the town has to be sure to take care of the businesses that are already in place.
Cornick said he’s been thinking about this challenge for 20 years and that they need to make it so that businesses see New Windsor as viable, but while keeping taxes at a reasonable level.
“Let me tell you what attracts people to town. Charm,” Fogarty said, noting the importance of maintaining the town’s appeal because, “we want people from Westminster to come here. We want people from Frederick County to come here.”