Meetings with Laurel mayor show 'democracy in action'

Beth Varnau, right, discusses parking issues with Mayor Craig Moe, center, and Keven Gray, deputy chief of police on Monday.
Beth Varnau, right, discusses parking issues with Mayor Craig Moe, center, and Keven Gray, deputy chief of police on Monday. (Katie V. Jones / BSMG)

It was “democracy in action.”

That was how James Ruth, of Laurel, described his meeting with the city of Laurel’s Mayor Craig Moe.


During the My Time with the Mayor event on Monday afternoon, Ruth was able to walk into the Laurel Armory and come face-to-face with the mayor to discuss a concern he had in his neighborhood.

He didn’t have to sign in. He didn’t have to go through other people first. He got right to the mayor.


“I went to his office, but it is hit or miss,” Ruth said. “I have an issue to clear up and he took the time to listen.”

While Moe’s office door is “always open,” he introduced My Time with the Mayor events to provide citizens an opportunity for a more in-depth conversation about their concerns as well as a place to voice them outside of a formal setting.

“People talk about traffic issues, if their garbage was missed or if there is some legislation we’re working on that has controversy,” Moe said. “Over the years, we have heard many different things.”

One time, a young man who was skate boarding in the area decided to come and ask why the city didn’t have a skate park, Moe said. It wasn’t long after that, a location was found and a skate park built.

“People have great ideas,” Moe said. “You have to listen to them and try to make them work.”

UM Capital Region Health officials provided updates on new programs being implemented, behavioral health, campus development and community outreach efforts at Laurel Regional Hospital at the March 11 City Council meeting.

Residents don’t always have issues to discuss, he added. Sometimes, they come to pay a compliment to various departments for their services.

“Those are nice to hear,” Moe said.

On Monday, Judy Miller and Beth Varnau, both members of the Laurel 4th of July Celebration committee, came together to meet with Moe. Miller was concerned about cars not stopping at crosswalks, while Varnau was upset about parking issues in her neighborhood.

“I never noticed that they were here before,” Miller said, afterward. “It was very interesting. He seemed very interested in our concerns.”

The My Time with the Mayor events are held around the city throughout the year to reach more individuals, Moe said.

“We have all these different parks and areas to get together,” Moe said. “It makes sense to use what we have.”

While Moe is the main attraction during the My Time with the Mayor events, he is often joined by a few others. On Monday, Deputy Chief of Police Keven Gray was able to assist the mayor by sharing his knowledge of parking issues and explaining crosswalk safety.


“You have to step into the crosswalk for cars to stop, not stand on the sidewalk,” Gray said, though he assured Miller that he would keep an eye on the crosswalks.

Moe also goes out into the community at City Council in the Park events, which bring department heads, City Council members and the mayor together for an informal meeting. Held throughout the summer in the city’s public parks, the event is another opportunity for citizens to learn what is going on in the city and to ask questions.

“I do more talking to let people know what is happening,” Moe said. “The different departments are there so people can talk with them.”

“It’s all about different ways to communicate,” Moe said.

Meet the mayor

What: My Time with the Mayor schedule. All sessions are 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 12: Robert J. DiPietro Community Center, 7901 Cypress St.

Wednesday, Oct. 16: Parks Recreation Maintenance Facility, 7705 Old Sandy Spring Road

Monday, Dec. 9: Barkman-Kaiser Public Safety Complex, 811 5th St.

City Hall in the park

What: City Hall in the Park schedule. All sessions are 6:30-8 p.m.

Wednesday, April 17: Emancipation Community Park, 8th and West streets

May 15: Discover Community Park, Harrison Drive and Greenhill Avenue

July 17: Wellington Pool/Park, 14404 Rosemoor Lane

Sept. 18: Casula Point, 9th and Main streets

For more information, call 301-725-5300

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