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Gordon: ‘Shop local’ for important municipal positions to assure we have stakeholders, not just employees | COMMENTARY

“Shop Local” is a well-known phrase seen in large and small communities alike. Signs indicating community support helping local people by supporting their local businesses can be seen anywhere from a small town in a rural Maryland county to a big city such as Baltimore.

It is important to not only support our community, but also to invest in it by truly taking a level of involvement, participation, and a stake of ownership on a daily basis. Being involved in one’s community ranges from initiating business ventures, being employed by our local businesses, and having faith in our community to foster the development and growth of our children.

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It is important that our local officials must also abide by the same level of pride and involvement in our community.  It is imperative that our local candidates must live in their respective areas — and demonstrate a history of residency.

Would you want a council member, mayor, member of the Board of Education, or county commissioner who lived in another county or state making the decisions that affected the population at large but not them? Of course not, as we the people want them to see the day-to-day issues and concerns of the community. We want individuals who have the pride, grit, determination, and are invested personally in our community.

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Isn’t it time to invest local? Now, I’m not suggesting that every employee in every position should be required to live in the respective areas they work for in our local governments. However, shouldn’t major positions require this? Perhaps it is time to shop local and invest locally in those hired for positions in our government.

Some will argue that if we were to have such a requirement then we would not have quality candidates. Well, what’s wrong with living here?  Doesn’t the entrance sign to Carroll County state “Feel Right at Home”? This is a weak argument since numerous municipalities and other local governments across the state do have residency requirements for various key roles, such as city administrator.

When these individuals move to the communities where they work they make a commitment and investment in the local economy and truly “shop local.” These types of employees are not just 9-to-5 members of the community that employs them. We the people don’t get a vote or say in who is hired for positions and while we do have our elected representatives who make these choices why not hire those who take a vested interest in those who employee them?

Currently, the city of Westminster’s city administrator is retiring and a replacement will be hired to fill this very important role. Isn’t it time for Westminster to make the leap and hire someone who not only works here, but also is invested in the city and lives in the city limits of Westminster? Some individuals in key roles in city government live here and others made the conscious decision to move to Westminster on their own. Westminster Police Chief Ledwell, for example, moved to Westminster when he received the position of Chief.

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A variety of city leadership positions should live here the same as our elected are required to be a resident to hold office. It is essential to be a stakeholder, not just an employee, but to be an integral part of the local community. Just working here is not enough.

Tom Gordon writes from Westminster. He writes every other Saturday. Email him at tgordonwrites@gmail.com

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