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Council candidates agree on priorities


The six candidates running for three Manchester Town Council seats tomorrow generally agree upon what the community's priorities should be for the next four years: water, Main Street revitalization and traffic.

Their differences lie more in their ages and experiences: They range from 27 to 70 years old, and include young workers and retired executives who have lived in town from four to 70 years.

Of the three council members whose terms were expiring, only Daniel C. Riley is seeking re-election - and he decided as the deadline loomed. Councilmen Joe Jordan and Brooks Rugemer decided not to run again.

Two candidates serve on town boards: Edward Dale Wilder Jr., 39, on the planning and zoning commission, and Paul M. Dattilio, 61, on the board of zoning appeals. Dattilio said he filed because no one else had.

The other candidates are: David M. Bott Sr., 64, a retired construction program manager for the Navy; Stephen M. Bankert, 31, a landfill equipment operator for Carroll County; and Julia Dawn Davidson, 27, who works for a Westminster florist.

Riley has lived in town all his 70 years and is a graduate of the old Manchester High School. He once worked for the town and, in the 1970s, served a term on the council. He retired in 1990 as an assistant vice president at First National Bank of Maryland.

"I feel our major issues are sufficient water supply, Main Street revitalization, to maintain a favorable tax rate, as well as water and sewer rates. I am running to continue working in the same areas I've been involved in during my current term in office," he said.

Riley was undecided up to the filing deadline. But he wants to continue heading the town's Main Street revitalization project.

The project with the State Highway Administration ranked high for all the candidates. They also vowed to press Manchester's plea for a bypass around its Main Street - Route 30 - despite the state administration's rejection of the idea.

"I'd like to work to do whatever I can do to get the bypass put back in," said Bott, who has a college degree in business administration and a community college degree in civil engineering.

His 35 years as a civilian employee for Navy construction included preparing proposals and presenting them to the Department of Defense and Congress.

A Wisconsin native, Bott said he and his wife, Mary, chose Manchester 4 1/2 years ago. After looking for two years, they decided to move from a crossroads known as Bryans Roads in Charles County. He felt crime was creeping into that area and wants to prevent that in his new home.

"It's my first time sticking my foot in the water for office," he said. "We felt like we enjoyed the town and it's been real nice here, but it may be going downhill a little bit. With my experience ... I feel like I may be able to assist."

Davidson, the mother of four children ages 4 to 8, worries about crime, noting "my council signs were stolen out of my yard."

She wants activities for the town's children, she said. A new skate park, to open this summer at Westside Memorial Park off Route 27, will benefit only teen-age boys, she said. "Maybe I'm overprotective, but a lot of kids, a lot of teen-agers, all you ever see them do is walk the streets," she said.

"I think we have a lot of development coming up within the next five to 10 years. We've got to be careful," said Davidson, who grew up in the Washington suburbs and graduated from Capital Christian High School. She has lived in the town about eight years. Her husband, Darrell W. Davidson, is a county planner.

Bankert, whose wife recently navigated town government to open a day care center, said, "I have become very interested in the operations of the town, and I also wanted to serve. "I feel that now is a great time for me to give back to the community," said Bankert, a 1987 graduate of North Carroll High School who has spent 30 of his 31 years in Manchester.

In addition to the Main Street project, he said his top concerns include finding and keeping an adequate town water supply.

Water shortage, a chronic problem for the town in the county's northeastern corner, was mentioned by all the candidates.

Dattilio listed water as his top concern - not only ensuring an adequate supply, but encouraging conservation. The bypass and revitalization rounded out his top three issues.

A member of the zoning appeals board for six months and a town resident for 24 years, Dattilio said he decided to run because "at first I was informed that nobody was on the ballot, so I wanted to volunteer my time and get more involved."

A 1957 graduate of Hagerstown High School, he has three years of college-level study in electronics and retired in 1998 after 27 years with Sears, Roebuck and Co. as a repair-service technician.

"I think that with my past trouble-shooting ability, experience, I could be useful to the council in solving problems," Dattilio said. "I have plenty of time now in retirement to donate time to the town of Manchester."

Wilder, 39, is a contracts manager at the Applied Physics Laboratory and has lived in town about seven years. A 1983 graduate of what now is Towson University in business management, he earned a master's degree in government administration at George Washington University.

In addition to the planning commission, the father of three children serves as vice president of North Carroll Recreation Council and president of its youth football and cheerleading program. Wilder listed the water supply, growth and revitalization as "the big three" concerns, followed by increasing youth involvement in the community to keep children off the streets, and supporting law enforcement to keep a low crime rate.

At the candidates forum, he praised Mayor Christopher B. D'Amario and the current council, then urged residents to "get involved in your community" with an eye toward restoring Manchester's quality of life.

Voting will be from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. tomorrow at Town Hall.

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