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Candidates favor strengthening police force ELECTION '93: Westminster

THE BALTIMORE SUN

MAYOR

W. Benjamin Brown

* Biography: Age: 48; married to Margaret (20 years), two children (Jess, 15, and Marcie, 9); education: B.S. -- social science, Towson State College, master's in social administration, University of Maryland; mayor since 1989; own and operate Benjamin's Fine Candles; former state employee; member of Westminster Optimist Club and Moose.

* Question 1: Rivalry? Does the left hand rival the right? Both our downtown and our Route 140 centers are integral parts of Westminster's economic vitality. Taken together, their differences are pluses -- Main Street, markets and mall, we've got it all! City government's role is to encourage cooperation that results in one hand washing the other.

* Question 2: I've asked Westminster's council to add four additional police officers, because our laws are only as meaningful as our resolve to enforce them. We have little choice, if we want decent neighborhoods -- citizens must care enough to report suspicious or clearly criminal behavior (857-TIPS), and the city must deploy the police needed to respond quickly and effectively.

* Question 3: The lesson of the last two years is that Westminster's 83-cent tax rate has been more than adequate to handle the strain of a very weak economy. The city has maintained services, pursued needed capital projects and avoided employee layoffs. When, as appears likely, our economy recovers, I'll be asking the council to cut Westminster's tax rate -- not raise it.

* Question 4: I prefer to speak in terms of challenges, rather than problems. Our biggest challenge is to maintain affordable government services -- water, roads, police, fire, parks, etc. Taxpayers have a right to demand services, but government's ** challenge is to determine what and how much is appropriate, in order that all of us -- old and young, native and newcomer -- can afford to live in Westminster.

CITY COUNCIL

Edward S. Calwell

* Biography: Age: 48; married to Wanda, two children (Eddie, 15, and Jeffery, 13); B.S. in marketing from University of Baltimore, 1973; resident of Carroll County for 22 years (10 in Westminster); systems analyst, U.S. Public Health Service; member of St. John's Catholic Church, Westminster; veteran of U.S. Air Force (served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1972); chairman ofWestminster Public Utilities Commission; president of Westminster Area Recreation Council; previously served on Westminster Board of Zoning Appeals, Parks Board and City Historic District Committee; was associate director of Carroll Gymnastics Center

Question 1: The city should be willing to listen to the needs of local business, regardless of their location within the city limits. Further, the city should foster support for economic development within the city. The city's role should not duplicate the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce in fostering harmony among businesses.

* Question 2: Increase police strength, add more foot patrols, encourage more police-civilian interaction (including beefing up Neighborhood Watch programs). Increased awareness of the TIPS hot line telephone network. Emphasize public education and awareness programs (i.e. school programs, use of local media and newsletters).

* Question 3: The fiscal management practices utilized by the Westminster City Finance Department are very effective and have kept our city financially sound for many years through good and bad economic times. Additionally, given the current rate of growth and the associated assessment and tax revenue, the city should be able to counteract any downturns in the economic climate.

* Question 4: The city will have to address key environmental requirements as mandated by the federal and state law, including water treatment, wastewater treatment and storm-water management. Higher costs for handling solid waste and additional environmental requirements expected of municipalities cannot be ignored. The city is continuing to take steps to ensure that our city is environmentally sound.

Dennis Frazier

* Biography: Age: 36; married to Debbie, two children (Christopher and Sarah); president, Greens of Westminster Home Owners Association 1989-92; past vice chairman, City of Westminster Parks Board; past member of the Tree Committee for the City of Westminster.

* Question 1: I feel the city should not "take sides" in a rivalry between businesses on 140 and Main Street, both of which pay city taxes.

* Question 2: I think the city should have the police officers out of their cars more, walking wherever possible. Communication between the public and the police is vital. However, people have to "take back" their

own streets.

* Question 3: Taxes should not be raised. The city is receiving around $170,000 more this year than last, just because of the rise in property values. For a city the size of Westminster, that should be enough to keep up with the rising cost. If there is a shortfall in funds, the city must make do with what it has.

* Question 4: I believe Westminster's problem is lack of vision. Westminster has no plan for where it wants to go, and if it has, the people sure don't know about it. How big? How to handle the growth? Tax base? A vision for the future will help put these questions into perspective.

Damian L. Halstad

* Biography: Age: 31; married to Leigh; B.A. -- Loyola College, law degree from University of Maryland; member, Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals; chairman, American Heart Association-North Carroll Branch; faculty, Carroll Community College; member, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee; member, Westminster Rotary Club; member, St. John's Catholic Church; former judicial clerk, Carroll County Circuit Court; employed as an associate with the firm of Hoffman & Comfort.

* Question 1: Right now, Main Street businesses need the city's assistance. Route 140 stores are easily accessible and have virtually unlimited parking. We should immediately address downtown parking and market historic Main Street as a place to shop. Ultimately, a balanced and manageable growth plan will benefit both downtown and 140 merchants.

* Question 2: Incorporate community-based policing methods; streamline neighborhood crime watch program; hire two new police officers, minimum one uniformed, one criminal investigation; increase foot patrols; publicize "tips line"; explore making Westminster a drug-free zone; coordinate efforts with County Drug Task Force.

* Question 3: 47 percent of our $5 million general fund budget comes from property tax revenue. Promotion of city business, industry and tourism is the best way to raise assessable base and increase revenue to city government. We should also cut all fat and nonessential services out of city budget.

Question 4: Revitalizing downtown Westminster is the biggest challenge we face. We should implement the 1990 Task Force Report on Downtown Renaissance, including creating a permanent, private economic advisory council; controlling development of unannexed parcels; and marketing our historic nature. This is important to an overall plan of slow and controlled growth.

WESTMINSTER ELECTION

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Where and when to vote:

Registered voters can cast their ballots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow at their designated polling places.

Who is running?

One candidate is running for mayor: incumbent W. Benjamin Brown.

Three candidates are running for two council seats: incumbent Edward S. Calwell, and challengers Dennis Frazier and Damian L. Halstad.

Questions for the candidates

A5 Each candidate was asked the following questions:

1. What should city government's role be in the rivalry between Main Street businesses and those in the Route 140 shopping centers?

2. What specific measures should the city take to fight drugs and drug-related crime in Westminster?

If a weak economy continues to hold down city revenue, what should be done to prevent a sharp increase in the tax rate?

What is Westminster's biggest problem, and how would you solve it?

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