New Windsor candidates agreed more than they disagreed at a 90-minute debate Friday night.
Contenders for mayor and the two vacancies on the Town Council stressed that they would work to foster new business while preserving New Windsor's small-town feel.
Mayoral candidates Matthew Purkins and Jack A. Gullo Jr. and council candidates Rebecca H. Harman, current Mayor James C. Carlisle, and Paul G. Garver debated on a stage in the Fellowship Hall of St. Paul's United Methodist Church.
The forum, sponsored by the county's League of Women Voterscame just days before Tuesday's election. The polls will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the New Windsor Fire Hall.
The candidates discussed issues including heavy truck traffic in town and the soon-to-be vacant New Windsor Middle School building, but never strayed from the "hometown" feeling each pledged to preserve.
"New Windsor is part of my roots," said the 24-year-old Mr. Gullo. "It has shaped my life."
"I think most people have seen me at work, walking around, talking to people," said Mr. Purkins, 18, who came to New Windsor from Pikesville eight years ago. "There are so many things that I think are wonderful about this town I call home."
The council candidates echoed Mr. Gullo's and Mr. Purkins' sentiments.
While candidates had difficulty finding things to disagree about, some of their ideas differed.
Only Mr. Purkins disputed the feasibility of a truck bypass. The council had considered a bypass several years ago to divert truck traffic from the center of town but did not pursued the idea.
"The bypass is too expensive to consider at this point. What we need are more restrictions and better regulations on the trucks," said Mr. Purkins, a senior at Francis Scott Key High School.
He suggested widening streets instead of the bypass.
Candidates agreed that commercial businesses should be encouraged in the town, whose population is expected to double in the next 10 years.
Ms. Harman, a retired schoolteacher seeking a second council term, said existing businesses should look into diversifying.
"I think commercial growth is important, but I think businesses already here in town should offer more variety," said Ms. Harman, who refuses to give her age.
The candidates also offered suggestions to combat juvenile delinquency. They all agreed the amended curfew and Community Watch Program, which the 43-year-old Mr. Garver oversees, is a good start.
Mr. Purkins suggested high school students be excluded from the curfew, which runs from 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 p.m. on Friday through Sunday for residents under 18.
Mr. Carlisle, 69, suggested parents who leave children unattended at night also bear some of the blame for juvenile delinquency.
"I think we are going in the right direction with all this, but maybe we should include the parents in this curfew," Mr. Carlisle said. "I blame the parents. . . ."
Mr. Gullo told the silent crowd that Thomas Jefferson was in his 30s when he helped write the Declaration of Independence and that Mozart wrote his first piano concerto before the age of 10.
"What I've got that no one else in this town except one other person [his opponent] has is the dedication and desire to be mayor of New Windsor," said Mr. Gullo, who will graduate from law school in a few weeks.