On Being Mayor of Rock Hall (1999 – 2011)
I had the honor of serving the citizens of Rock Hall as their Mayor from 1999 to 2011. I’m proud to say, that with the cooperation of Council Members, the Citizens of Rock Hall and the Greater Rock Hall Business Association, I feel that many of the needs and issues that motivated me to first run for Mayor have been accomplished during my tenure. Rock Hall has transitioned its economy from the seafood industry to tourism – capitalizing on its heritage and remaining closely connected to the Chesapeake Bay. In support of small business in Rock Hall, Tangible and personal property taxes have been eliminated. In addition, the constant yield rate, a key component in local taxation, has never been increased since I’ve been in office. By living within its means, balanced town budgets for Rock Hall have prevailed. State grants were secured to refurbish the downtown shopping areas, and police and sanitation services have been brought to high levels of competitive excellence. And the many highly successful annual events that take place in Rock Hall, thanks to tremendous cooperation and volunteerism, not only support our local economy but have put us on the map as the Pearl of the Chesapeake and “that Little Big Event Town”!
My role as Mayor of Rock Hall afforded me the opportunity to gain experience and insight into various state and federal level government operations and networks. Having been past President of the Maryland Mayors’ Association and on the Board of the Maryland Municipal League for several terms since being in office, I worked closely with various state agencies, state legislators and the Governors Office – both Democrats and Republicans! While Mayor, I served as an appointee of the Governor on the Critical Areas Commission. Following Hurricane Isabell I worked directly with FEMA to get a Federal Emergency Response Center located in Rock Hall and also with both Senator Barbara Mikulski and Representative Wayne Gilchrest to secure various aspects of follow-up support of the recovery efforts of the Town and its citizens.
A very unique aspect of being a Town Mayor is that it is a non-partisan position – candidates for the Office of Mayor or Town Council do not run based on party affiliation. As a result, getting the right things done for the citizens we are elected to represent is simply the way of doing things – I feel this fundamental perspective that has come from my experience as Mayor is critically needed right now not only in Annapolis but in all levels of our government.
Highlights as Rock Hall Mayor
Eliminated local personal property tax.
Expanded commercial tax base.
Produced a balanced budget for 11 straight years.
On leaving office, the town’s fund balance was $500,000.
Paid off Town Hall mortgage ahead of schedule.
Reclaimed the Old Clam House for use by the marine industry.
Secured critical dredging of Rock Hall harbor.
Increased tourism with creation of several popular annual town events.
Expanded and renovated local ball fields.
Created funding stream for Library and Museum operations.
Established observation pier at Blue Heron Park.
Invested in infrastructure from sidewalks to water towers.
Obtained retirement benefits for town employees.
Expanded police force and introduced computer technology.
Secured FEMA center for Upper Shore following Hurricane Isabel.
Leader in watermen’s oyster recovery initiatives.