Advertisement
Politics

Anne Arundel County Council District 1 candidates hope to improve public safety, bring resources

Later this year, voters in Brooklyn Park and Jessup will choose between a former Democratic council member for the area and a Republican newcomer as their next representative.

Republican Jeremy Shifflett, a Glen Burnie property manager running in his first campaign, will be introducing himself to the electorate for the first time. Meanwhile, his general election opponent, Democrat Pete Smith, is a known quantity for District 1 voters having previously represented them for five years.

Advertisement

Both he and Shifflett are unopposed in their respective primaries. They will face off in the Nov. 8 general election. Over the next four months, each will make the case to voters about what they plan to bring to the Anne Arundel County Council.

Smith, a Marine Corps reservist, hopes to improve public safety by adding more police, increasing school construction to reduce overcrowding and unifying the county through social programs. Shifflett, a property manager, plans to address crime by constructing a police station in Brooklyn Park and reducing classroom sizes through smart growth development.

Advertisement

“The reason that I wanted to get into politics was just to try to get things done,” Shifflett said. “Far too often things fall on deaf ears.”

Smith, a Jessup resident who has lived in the county for nearly 20 years, was first appointed to represent District 1 in 2012 after former Democratic Council member Daryl Jones pleaded guilty to tax charges for failing to pay taxes and was ousted by the council. Jones served five months in a South Carolina prison. In 2013, Smith was forced to step down after Jones won an appeal to regain his council seat on the basis that he was still a county resident even though he lived outside the county briefly when he went to prison.

After Jones’s term concluded, Smith ran and won his first full term and represented District 1 from 2014 to 2018. He lost reelection to Sarah Lacey, a Democrat, in the 2018 primary. Lacey is running to unseat Sen. Pam Beidle, who represents Linthicum, in the Democratic primary July 19.

“There was a part of me that felt like I still had unfinished business,” Smith said. He now works as a program manager at Fort George G. Meade.

Shifflett is a property manager in Glen Burnie with Pinnacle Properties. He’s lived in the county for almost 40 years.

Residents who live in his properties often have issues and don’t know where to turn, he said. He’d like to be that liaison that could advocate for them and make local government accessible.

Both candidates said they want to improve the county’s education system, police force and quality of life.

Speeding up the pace at which the county is building new schools could ease classroom overcrowding, Smith said. It’s something Smith said he’d push the council to invest more time and money in; he’d also look at ways to reduce the cost of construction.

Advertisement

“If we’re going to be competitive with other jurisdictions like Montgomery County and Howard County, part of that is getting more facilities up and running,” he said.

Shifflett’s solution to the overcrowding was more geared toward development.

“The first thing you do is have some kind of smart growth program so you’re not overcrowding the schools,” he said, adding he’d scrutinize any residential construction projects that could add more kids to the schools.

To address public safety — the number one concern among county residents, according to an Anne Arundel Community College poll this spring — Smith and Shifflett have similar solutions.

While Smith would like to see Anne Arundel County Police add officers, he said if the county can’t make that happen, it needs to supplement the lack of surveillance over the region in some other way like enhancing the police department’s use of technology.

“[We need] police cameras in some of the hot spot areas for our county so that they have eyes and ears on the ground,” Smith said. “If things happen, they can respond.”

Advertisement
Maryland Policy & Politics

Maryland Policy & Politics

Weekly

Keep up to date with Maryland politics, elections and important decisions made by federal, state and local government officials.

Shifflett said he’d like to see a new police station be built in Brooklyn Park after a neighborhood station closed a few years ago. Another area he’d like to see more policing is the light rail stops in Linthicum and Ferndale.

Both candidates had desires to change the nature of how residents think of the county and district. Smith said he wanted the county to become a more unified community, while Shifflett said he wanted to ensure District 1 got the attention it deserved.

“We have compartmentalized areas within the county whether you’re on the Broadneck Peninsula or in south county or north county. Everyone has their section of Anne Arundel County,” Smith said. “I hope someday we can change that where people feel proud to be an Anne Arundel County citizen.”

Taking inspiration from the Naval Academy’s Sponsor Program, which partners midshipmen with local families to provide them a home away from home, Smith said he would like to see a program that does the same thing with children from impoverished neighborhoods.

Shifflett said he’d also like to see his constituents’ quality of life go up. District 1 residents have said they feel forgotten in local government, he said. One example of this neglect is the Brooklyn Park community center project that, he says, has been delayed for too long. About $14 million has been allocated for construction for the center over the next two fiscal years.

As a teen growing up in Glen Burnie, Shifflett recalled talking with people who were eager to leave the area and go south. He’d like to reverse that trend if elected.

Advertisement

“Fighting for something like that is something that I’d be all for,” he said.


Advertisement