Running unopposed in his re-election campaign for Hampstead mayor comes as a relief to Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. after his thwarted bid in a crowded House of Delegates race last fall.
After one term as mayor and six years as a councilman, Shoemaker, 42, said he still has goals to accomplish.
"We've made a lot of progress over the last four years with the bypass coming, developing new parks, the expansion of the police force and efforts to retain both public works and law enforcement personnel," said Shoemaker, who practices law in town. "Now we've got new challenges on the horizon, including the ongoing quest for the new high school, the Main Street revitalization effort and the need for continued fiscal prudence."
With two Hampstead Town Council seats open in the May 8 municipal election, Shoemaker said he endorsed incumbent Councilman Christopher M. Nevin, a vice president with Provident Bank, and newcomer Joe Zynel, an insurance adjuster and Main Street revitalization advocate.
Seven candidates are vying for the two council positions. Councilman Richard V. Moon, who has been ill and absent from council meetings since January, will vacate his seat.
With plans for a new northeast area high school back on after the project was nearly axed from the county budget, education is a key issue for many Hampstead candidates.
They support the once-contentious plans for the new school, but some, such as candidates Kristi A. Yowell, David T. Unglesbee and Herb Raver, said funds must also be directed toward improvements at the aging North Carroll High School.
Because the new Hampstead bypass will divert truck traffic from Route 30, most candidates hope to lure niche businesses to Main Street yet maintain its small-town charms. The bypass, which cost about $83 million, is expected to open late next year.
But Raver, 50, who runs his own insurance business on Main Street, said the Town Council is acting more like "Big Brother" by passing prohibitive sign ordinances that might hurt development.
"They want to make it a cookie-cutter community and have everything look the same," Raver said.
Zynel, 41, said he supports the Town Council's Main Street plans. He mentioned Main Street's new plaza, where a Rita's Water Ice has opened and the Snickerdoodle Bakery will relocate, as the type of development he would promote. The small niche shops should predominate, with big-box retail stores remaining on the outskirts, Zynel said.
Yowell, 28, who works in human resources development for Towson University, said she would stress infrastructure improvements before working to beautify Main Street. Restored sidewalks, new piping and building rehabs should be the priority, she said.
Nevin, 47, said he would pursue State Highway Administration funds to reconstruct Main Street and then put in old-fashioned street lamps, more trees and decorative sidewalks.
Candidate Danny R. Lee, 62, a retired FBI agent, said the town must be vigilant to allow only sustainable residential and industrial growth along the new Hampstead Bypass corridor. He said better long-range growth plans could help the town achieve that goal.
While many of the candidates are longtime Hampstead and Carroll County residents, Matthew M. Szybalski, 30, a title insurance compliance auditor, moved to town nearly a year ago from Owings Mills. He said the school system, affordable home prices and the small-town feel drew his family to Hampstead.
Unglesbee, 37, who manages a tire and automotive retail shop, also ran for council two years ago. He said Hampstead needs 24-hour police protection to maintain its quality of life.