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Ward 2 candidate Zia believes moving train stop would stimulate economy

Mansoor Zia
Mansoor Zia

Growing up in Pakistan, Mansoor Zia searched for any opportunity to receive the very best education and share his knowledge with others.

Zia studied a variety of subjects as a student at the University of Punjab, including business operations and management, political science, world history and psychology, and later moved to California at age 28.

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After moving to Laurel in 1997, the 62-year-old retiree is ready to bring his vast expertise to the Laurel City Council as he runs for one of two seats in Ward 2, facing incumbent council members Donna Crary and Frederick Smalls.

"There are many factors that contributed to my running," Zia said. "Of course, there's the desire for public service. There's also the participation and my civic responsibility. You become helpful in order to reach something. You have to get involved."

As a councilman, Zia said his main focus would be to continue the city's business development. During his 30 years as a business administrator in the hospitality, food and beverage industry, Zia said he has come to understand property development, which he can apply to the current revitalization of Main Street.

Over the years, city officials have pushed for new businesses along the strip, introducing White's Barber Company in 2011, Bellavive Jewelry in 2013 and Aroma's Cigar Lounge in 2015 among several others.

"Every city has a history. Every city has a heritage. Every city has some geopolitical position," Zia said. "Laurel is more than 300 years old. It's a sandwich between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. [and] that's a huge benefit, which many other cities may not have."

But his concerns don't rest there. Zia also hopes to increase economic development in Laurel. While the city is working to prevent the closure of Laurel's MARC train station, Zia said the stop's shift into Howard County might not be the worst scenario.

"Some people won't like when I say this, but the station is a convenience," he said. "The racetrack has an offering of 1,000 apartments and another shopping mall. If the city of Laurel gets the benefits from the businesses there, the economy will improve. It will be a way to increase the traffic in the city and that will generate revenue. For the business improvement, I would let [the train stop] go to Howard County."

Although he believes his place on the council would do some good, Zia said he urges residents to "vote for your favorite candidate."

"We need a voice and we need participation," he said. "The present team is doing an excellent job; the council members, the mayor and other city administrators. But, there's always room for improvement. I would be very glad to improve the image and the convenience."

This is part of a series of profiles on candidates in this year's city council elections.

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