Hampstead's May election, with two mayoral candidates and six people running for two council seats, is a perfect time for residents to choose how the town should be managed as it enters the 21st century, the candidates say.
Now they just have to encourage residents to vote.
"We think that . . . it is time for the people of Hampstead to speak out about whether the course that is being taken is the proper course or it is time for a change," said mayoral candidate Christopher Nevin.
During the 1993 election, only 224 of the town's 1,609 registered voters cast ballots in the eight-person race for two council seats. Two years earlier, 79 of 1,100 registered voters cast ballots for the mayor and two council seats.
The 1991 races were largely uncontested, although each of the three people who filed to run did receive minor challenges from write-in candidates.
This year, more than 1,761 people in this rapidly growing community could weigh in on whether they accept the arguments of those who say Hampstead's growth is quickly outpacing such services as roads, schools and water supplies. To them, the solution is to invoke the town's adequate facilities ordinance, which allows officials to delay growth if services are deemed inadequate.
On the other side is the current leadership's position that denying a developer the right to build on his land could draw Hampstead into a costly lawsuit.
Councilman Arthur H. Moler and other town officials have said they don't feel they can delay a developer's plans based on inadequate roads and schools because both are controlled by the state and Carroll County governments.
Mr. Moler, 62, also is on the town's Planning and Zoning Commission.
"For the last four years, we've been told that we're a vocal minority," said Mr. Nevin, who is running on a ticket with council candidates Lawrence Hentz and Stephen Holland. "Now it's put up or shut up time. Are we a minority or, as we believe, a majority in the town of Hampstead?"
For Mayor C. Clinton Becker, the need for a choice in the election was what finally pushed him into the race just before the filing deadline last Monday.
"A comment by one of my friends was the clincher comment," said Mr. Becker, 47, who has been mayor since 1991, after a term on the council. "He said it really should be up to the voters of the town of Hampstead to decide who's the mayor rather than it being just a personal decision on my part."
The mayor, a financial analyst with Bell Atlantic Corp., said he almost didn't run again because of the amount of time the post takes from his family life.
He and his wife, Terry, live in North Carroll Farms. They have five grown children and three grandchildren, he said. Three of their children live in Hampstead.
"I truly love the town and its character," Mr. Becker said.
"I want that preserved," he added, but at the same time, he would like to see some growth. "I don't want to see the town stagnate.
"Hampstead is pretty much at the end of its growth cycle. There are only two residentially zoned parcels that are not under plan, and we're talking about two small parcels, a total of 40 acres."
In addition, the two recently approved projects on the north end of town -- North Carroll Farms Section IV and Westwood Park -- will take eight to 10 years to complete, Mr. Becker said.
"I'd like to see those come to fruition," said Mr. Moler, citing those developments as one reason he chose to run for re-election. "When these two developments are finished, that will be the end of large development in Hampstead."
Mr. Moler, who lives with his wife, Elaine, in Hampstead Valley, said he also enjoys working for the town. The couple has two grown children and four grandchildren.
"I feel like it's my responsibility after living in the area," said Mr. Moler, who retired from Black & Decker Corp. as a supervisor and engineer a little more than a year ago. "I like working with the town and giving back my share."
It was the approval of those two subdivisions, however, that pushed Mr. Hentz, 42, and Mr. Holland, 35, into the race. The men, both of whom have children in the school system, have been active with groups arguing for controlled growth in Hampstead.
"A balance has got to be reached," said Mr. Hentz, who served on the town's adequate facilities task force. "We have to balance the rights of the developer against the impact it will have on the citizens in the community."
In his position as a registered sanitary engineer with Post, Buckley, Schuh and Jernigan in Bowie, Mr. Hentz travels nationwide advising cities and towns about environmentally safe ways to dispose of waste. He and his wife, Patt, live with their three children in North Carroll Farms.
Mr. Holland, vice president of operations for Holland Manufacturing in Baltimore, led the group of homeowners that appealed the approval of North Carroll Farms and Westwood Park to the town Board of Zoning Appeals in September.
The appeals board ruled against the residents in two decisions during January and March.
Mr. Holland, his wife, Annette, and their two children live in Roberts Field.
Greg Jugo, another Roberts Field resident, also is running for a council seat.
Mr. Jugo ran for the council in 1993 and placed fifth in the eight-person race. He garnered 56 votes.
Mr. Jugo, who manages a Roy Rogers restaurant in Baltimore, was unavailable for comment for this article.
Haven Shoemaker, a Westminster attorney, and Elizabeth Hall, a media specialist at Spring Garden Elementary, also have filed to run for the two open council seats.