Fire chief files to run for Common Council


Kevin R. Utz, Westminster's fire chief is one of the first to file for one of two seats on the city's five-member Common Council in the nonpartisan election scheduled for May 9.

Kevin R. Utz, 47, a Westminster native, is a newcomer to politics, although he applied to fill a seat in the House of Delegates vacated last year when Carmen Amedori resigned to accept a post in state government. Utz was unsuccessful in that bid.

For more than 25 years, he served as a state trooper and volunteer firefighter. For the past three years, he has been chief of Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1.

"I've done all of the goals I had for me," Utz said last week. "I wanted to be fire chief, I wanted to be a trooper and I wanted to be a flight paramedic. I've got a Type A personality to get things done. I fight for what I think is right. I try to get things that would benefit the community."

After Utz filed, community activist and former council candidate Josephine Velazquez also filed for one of the two open council seats, now held by Councilman Roy L. Chiavacci and Council President Damian L. Halstad. The filing deadline for the four-year terms is in April. The election for those positions and that of mayor is May 9.

Utz said he's learned a lot about politics from his mother, Dorothy V. Utz, who was elected to the Carroll County Orphans' Court in 1994 and has won re-election ever since.

Utz's campaign treasurer, Jeanine Falise, called him "honest" and a man with a "lot of integrity. I think he'll do well for the city of Westminster."

Now retired from law enforcement, Utz is a fire lieutenant and safety officer for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He has also become an advocate for Carroll's volunteer fire companies and their struggle to provide emergency services in the midst of unprecedented growth.

Utz attended a public hearing at Monday's council meeting, where an overflow crowd criticized a city plan to annex land for a proposed 146-acre development that could have as many as 300 new homes.

"We're stretched to the very limit," Utz told council members, echoing residents' concerns about drains on public services and resources.

In an interview Friday, Utz re-iterated his plea. "It's not that we're fighting against total growth," he said. "We're fighting for managed growth."

Utz also hopes to bring businesses to Westminster, especially in the downtown area and on the Route 27 corridor.

While working in the state police aviation unit that dispatches medical-rescue helicopters to accidents throughout the Baltimore area, Utz also ran a driver's education business. He sold the business after a serious accident March 24, 2000, in which a drunken driver nearly killed him. His life was saved by a man whom he had pulled over for speeding.

Utz, then a sergeant, was on his way to work that night when he stopped Byron Brevard Greene - a high school biology teacher - for speeding on the outer loop of the Beltway, just south of Windsor Mill Road. As Greene handed Utz his license, a Ford truck hit the trooper and knocked him into traffic. Greene pulled him to safety, onto the shoulder of the road.

It took seven months for Utz to recover from his injuries, which included a collapsed lung, lacerations and a cut near his left eye. At one point, he didn't think he'd be able to use his right hand again. But with physical therapy, he has regained use.

Greene didn't get a speeding ticket.

Utz graduated from Westminster High School in 1975. Soon after, the Maryland State Police hired him as a communication operator at the Waterloo and Westminster barracks.

He began work as a volunteer firefighter in 1976.

Utz graduated from the state police academy in 1981. He was assigned to road patrol in South Carroll for three years and Westminster for two years before transferring to the aviation division in 1985 as a flight paramedic.

Utz rose through the ranks and became a supervisor in both road patrol and in aviation.

In 1996, Utz earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from La Salle University in Philadelphia.

Two years later, he returned to the aviation division as a commander. When he was hit by the drunken driver, he was a helicopter dispatch duty officer at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

After his accident, he returned to the Westminster barracks as a criminal investigation supervisor. He retired in July 2003.

Utz is divorced with three children, ages 19 to 22, who were all raised in Westminster.

Sun staff researcher Shelia Jackson contributed to this article.

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