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Tomlinson: Stating the case for voters to choose Dillion for Westminster mayor | COMMENTARY

Last week, Westminster residents had an opportunity to watch both mayoral candidates make arguments why they should be elected mayor on May 11. After a forum that lasted 70 minutes, it was evident which candidate has the experience and vision needed to serve as mayor of Westminster — Dennis Dillon.

Dillon introduced himself as a 20-year resident of Carroll County and vice president of a publicly-traded company, ARC Document Solutions. Dillon expressed his concern for small businesses struggling to survive the pandemic, for the increasing level of crime in Westminster, and for the absence of McDaniel students on Main Street despite 1,600 of them living in the heart of the city. “I believe I bring a lot of business sense and ideas to the City of Westminster” said Dillon during his forum introduction.

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Early in the forum, the moderator, Carroll County Times editor Bob Blubaugh, asked each candidate how they were best equipped to balance the city’s budget and fix the business climate. Dillon explained that as a businessman for the last 25 years, he has experienced three acquisitions and mergers and managed to help keep ARC profitable during the pandemic without losing many employees. He stressed that the city needs to start looking at its assets, to determine how they are being used, and to begin dispersing unused assets. Dillon also mentioned that he can use his business relationships, including ARC’s 8,000 clients in the Washington Metropolitan area, to help bring new businesses to Westminster.

Dillon’s opponent, Mon Becker, countered that Westminster has been resilient and has thrived during the pandemic — something Dillon adamantly disagreed with, “I disagree with statements that we flourished under this (pandemic) because I’ve talked to several business owners who have taken out loans to stay afloat.”

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Halfway through the night, a question was asked about the increase in opioid overdoses in and around Westminster over the last year. Dillon explained that one of the first things he did once deciding to run was to sit down with the Westminster Police Department Chief Thomas Ledwell to discuss crime and drugs in the city. After the meeting Dillon remarked that Ledwell “has some great ideas and bestowed a lot of those on me.” If elected mayor, Dillon promised to support the Westminster Police and the Sheriff’s Office and that he will rely on their expertise when it comes to police matters.

When asked if he was satisfied with the status of the former Wakefield Valley golf course property that the city has owned since 2015, Dillon emphasized that although he thought the acquisition of the property was a great deal for Westminster, that action is needed regarding a use for the property, and that the time for talk has passed.

My favorite question of the night was, “how would you prioritize the creation and/or upgrade of the walking and bicycle trails in the City?” Dillon explained that although he loves walking his two black Labrador retrievers around downtown daily, that he has higher priorities. In contrast to his opponent, Dillon noted that taxpayer money should be spent on repair of Westminster’s existing infrastructure, including sidewalks, streetlights, water, and sewer over trails and bike paths.

Dillon’s answer to the question about how Westminster can be more welcoming to McDaniel students was that he would bridge that gap by developing ways to get kids from the campus to downtown and by working with businesses to offer incentives to encourage students to visit their establishments.

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At the end of the forum Dillon discussed the importance of the issues facing Westminster by simply stating that Westminster residents should consider voting for him if they care about: how their tax dollars are spent; policies that promote Main Street and small business; having clean water that won’t cost an arm and a leg; and, the safety of their family and neighbors. Dillon also asked viewers if they wanted: McDaniel students to participate in city life by frequenting local businesses and events; action on Wakefield Valley versus more taxpayer-funded studies; and open and transparent government in the city.

Westminster voters have a clear choice for mayor — Dennis Dillon. Dennis is not a politician, but a successful businessman, coach, husband, and father who wants to use his time and talents to make Westminster a better place for residents and visitors to live, work and study.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, with those living east of Md. 31 voting at the Westminster Volunteer Fire Department’s headquarters at 28 John St., and those living west of Md. 31 voting at the Community Building at 325 Royer Road next to the municipal pool. All registered voters who live within Westminster city limits are eligible to vote.

Christopher Tomlinson, third vice chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, writes from Melrose. Find him on Facebook at ColumnistChrisTomlinson or email him at CCTtomlinson@gmail.com.

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