With the retirement of two-term councilman William F. Haifley from the Westminster City Council and with Mayor W. Benjamin Brown running unopposed, the political dynamics of Carroll's largest municipality will be quite different after the city election next Monday.
Mr. Haifley proudly represented the old Westminster -- a small town populated by long-time residents with few problems. He only grudgingly acknowledged the influx of new homeowners and made it his practice to oppose most initiatives by Mr. Brown, who attempted to respond to the changing town scene.
Even though Westminster is a small city, with a population of 13,000, the Carroll County seat faces issues normally associated with larger burgs: the steady erosion of the cental business district, while commercial areas prosper on the city's edge; an aging water and sewer system, and a rising tide of crime that has become a widespread public concern even if small by metropolitan standards.
Without a challenge for his second term, Mr. Brown will no doubt continue as an activist leader. Without Mr. Haifley's presence, the council will have to be well-informed to counterbalance the mayor, one of the most outspoken politicians on the county's traditionally low-key civic scene.
Running for the two council seats are incumbent Edward S. Calwell and challengers Dennis Frazier and Damian L. Halstad.
In his first run for office, Mr. Halstad has demonstrated an impressive understanding of Westminster. He rightly sees the need for a greater push to revitalize the downtown and to capitalize on its historic nature.
Mr. Frazier, a five-year resident of the Greens, is concerned that growth is outpacing the city's ability to provide services. Mr. Frazier, however, sometimes considers the city's problems solely from the narrow perspective of the city's largest subdivision.
Mr. Calwell is the only holdover from the pre-1991 old guard City Council. While he has monitored the water and sewer system as chairman of the Westminster Public Utilities Commission, he has not staked out positions on the town's pressing issues and seems content to go along with the majority. Mr. Frazier might bring more energy to the legislative body.
The Sun endorses Damian L. Halstad and Dennis Frazier for the Westminster Council.