Cambridge City candidates offer positions on issues

I-Voted

In preparation for the upcoming City of Cambridge elections, the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce has asked the candidates for all offices to weigh in on five questions that highlight issues of particular concern to our members.  The following pages contain the responses to those five questions.  The five questions are listed below and are included with the responses.

Election Specifics:
Primary Election – Wards 3 & 4 only
When: June 14 – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Governors Hall at Sailwinds Park

General Election – Mayor and all Wards
When: July 12 – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.   
Where: Governors Hall at Sailwinds Park
Absentee ballots may be picked up at City Hall.

 

Candidate Questions – 2016 City of Cambridge Election

  1. What do you view as Cambridge’s greatest assets and how would you work with the City and other stakeholders to utilize those assets to advance the City’s economic and community development?
  1. Complex regulatory processes and the City tax rates are often cited as burdens that make the City less attractive to new and expanding businesses. What are your thoughts on improving the City’s ability to attract and retain business?
  1. What is your vision for the redevelopment of the Sailwinds Park property and how should the City facilitate that effort?
  1. What are your thoughts on continuing and accelerating the revitalization of commercial and residential property in the City of Cambridge?
  1. If elected, how would you use the Chamber and the business community in your role as a City Official?

 

The order of the responses in this document is the Mayor first, then each of the Wards in numerical order, and then alphabetical by candidate last name within the Wards.  The candidates were asked to limit their responses to 250 words for each question.


Candidate Name Responded to Questions Office
Victoria Jackson-Stanley Yes Mayor
Stephen W. Rideout Yes Ward 1
Donald J. Sydnor No Ward 2
Frank E. Cooke Yes Ward 3
Armah Dashiell No Ward 3
La-Shon M. Foster Yes Ward 3
Dion D. Banks Yes Ward 4
Dave Cannon Yes Ward 4
Carlos L. Wilson Yes Ward 4
Robert L. Hanson Yes Ward 5

 

Office: Mayor

Candidate: Victoria Jackson-Stanley

  1. What do you view as Cambridge’s greatest assets and how would you work with the City and other stakeholders to utilize those assets to advance the City’s economic and community development?

The City of Cambridge has many many assets however I believe our greatest asset is our vision for our deep water port. The best way to utilize this asset is by insuring that all marketing programs we implement, reach the boating community on the east coast. An aggressive marketing campaign will put Cambridge in the limelight for those who love the water.

  1. Complex regulatory processes and the City tax rates are often cited as burdens that make the City less attractive to new and expanding businesses. What are your thoughts on improving the City’s ability to attract and retain business?

To improve the City’s ability to attract and retain business we must reinforce our business friendly image by focusing on why having your business in Cambridge is the “smart business choice”. We must move forward in recruiting new businesses and to assure current businesses that we will help them get what is needed to be successful. We must ensure that our message is consistently clear that “Your business will thrive in Cambridge and you are smart to come here and/or stay here as we advance”.

  1. What is your vision for the redevelopment of the Sailwinds Park property and how should the City facilitate that effort?

To advance Sailwinds Park redevelopment my vision is to include cultural programs such as a Children’s museum, a museum where we highlight how Cambridge has been important to the military history of our country and maybe a comedy club. The leaders of this community need to embrace the concept of diversity when the final plans/vision is put into concrete programming.

  1. What are your thoughts on continuing and accelerating the revitalization of commercial and residential property in the City of Cambridge?

We have arrived in a place where people “get it” about Cambridge. I believe our business community understands that the City of Cambridge is open, ready and willing to do what it can to ensure their success.

  1. If elected, how would you use the Chamber and the business community in your role as a City Official?

I will work with the Chamber to research, recruit and retain businesses for the people of Cambridge and the region

Office: Commissioner Ward 1

Candidate: Stephen W. Rideout

  1. What do you view as Cambridge’s greatest assets and how would you work with the City and other stakeholders to utilize those assets to advance the City’s economic and community development?

Cambridge has many assets, and it is hard to know what are its “greatest”: location-location- location -a deep water port – thousands of families passing Cambridge every year in cars – restaurants and entertainment venues – Sailwinds – waterfront and marinas to be filled– affordable 2nd homes – a regional airport that is being  expanded- IronMan and EagleMan – Phillips Packing House and adjacent park – a boater destination – excess city property that could be sold or leased – Interested developers for underused properties – Professional management and financial oversight – a proactive police chief

How would I work to utilize these and other assets? – “Let’s get the conversation going” would be my first suggestion. Collaborative decisions that include the community’s views can then be made.

  1. Complex regulatory processes and the City tax rates are often cited as burdens that make the City less attractive to new and expanding businesses. What are your thoughts on improving the City’s ability to attract and retain business?

I would offer the following:

  1. Listen to ideas from the business community and start to work with the ones that are obvious, simple, and easy to accomplish.
  2. Make it easier for businesses to start here. Streamline the process, and, if necessary, advocate for legislation that would help streamline the process.
  3. Place the city economic development department directly under the city manager.
  4. Have the Mayor do what she does best – participate in meetings with potential businesses being recruited to come to Cambridge and help sell the city. Have the City and County work together.
  5. With regard to taxes for businesses, continue to support tax breaks for businesses that move here. I would want a full analysis of our tax structure and where the money comes from before saying how or if taxes should be reduced. There are too many obvious infrastructure needs that face the city that have not been addressed for years. They need to be addressed and paid for to make this a move livable and inviting city.
  6. Train Citizens who want to repair their homes in the historic district as to what the requirements are. Require additional training for the members of the HPC on the rules and regulations. Require city staff to provide up to 3 prior decisions of the HPC to the committee along with any recommendation they make regarding a property. Delay in the process is the enemy of everyone.
  7. Provide additional financial support to the Tubman Museum in anticipation of the Tubman Park opening next year. That way it can be open all day for those tourists who come to see the Park. Also support Cambridge Mainstreet and the Dorchester Chamber in their efforts to attract and support businesses here. Fund early childhood education and socialization programs that will help prepare infants and toddlers to be ready for their first job of being educated. Businesses that see that we are serious about educating their potential workforce are more likely to move here.
  1. What is your vision for the redevelopment of the Sailwinds Park property and how should the City facilitate that effort?

Leave options open for the many possibilities for development including lease rather than sale of the property to one or more developers. Work with the Richardson Museum to see about building a center for the Museum that would also be used for events similar to but on a smaller scale than the Monterey Bay Museum in CA or the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA. The city and museum jointly, with professional management of the event center, could share the proceeds from events held there. It could be expanded for larger events by using tents. This would provide additional opportunities for businesses to serve the event center and reduce the cost of constructing the building. The only housing on the Sailwinds property might be a retirement or assisted living facility that was away from the water. The city in its feasibility study should look to see if acquiring some of the Hospital property would make the potential development area more attractive to a developer or a group of developers. Waterfront public access should be maintained while the waterfront area should be a working area related to the history and water related economy of Cambridge and Dorchester County.

  1. What are your thoughts on continuing and accelerating the revitalization of commercial and residential property in the City of Cambridge?

In order for the city to have a downtown area including Pine Street that can attract visitors who will spend their money to the benefit of businesses and city tax payers, continued improvement should occur. With residential property, the city must address the substandard housing issues through stronger enforcement of existing laws. Additionally, promoting Cambridge as a 2nd home community can bring more money to the city, improve house values, provide more work for home builders, retailers, and realtors, and bring more people here with money to spend.

  1. If elected, how would you use the Chamber and the business community in your role as a City Official?

I don’t know that I have the right to use the Chamber or business community as a City Official.  I certainly can ask, but the Chamber and local businesses are autonomous organizations that have their own mission and goals that impact both the city and Dorchester County.

Receiving input from the Chamber, Mainstreet, and individual business owners as well as the community is the only way to ensure open and responsive government that will benefit everyone; for without it, continued resistance to the change that is needed to make Cambridge a better and more economically stable place to live will remain a challenge that will slow us down.

Additional sources for Information on candidate views:

www.steve4Cambridge.com

 

Office: Commissioner Ward 3

Candidate: Frank E. Cooke

  1. What do you view as Cambridge’s greatest assets and how would you work with the City and other stakeholders to utilize those assets to advance the City’s economic and community development?

To anyone lucky enough to be born here or to those fortunate “come-a-heres” who discovered this jewel, it is obvious that our greatest asset is our location and our quality of life.  As I discovered 15 years ago, the relaxed pace, the natural beauty of the waterfront, the craftsmanship displayed in our historic structures, and most importantly the zest for life of our citizens make Cambridge a special place.  There are no shortage of people willing to work to realize the city’s potential.  We need to support the local proprietors who have risked their own capital to bring in business.  Similarly, as developers discover us and express an interest in revitalizing a shopping center or restoring a decaying factory or building a retirement community, we need to embrace them.  Our regulatory bodies should not impose unrealistic requirements to undercut the marketability of the project while still demanding a level of quality that would ensure that our jewel remains untarnished.

Job creation should be the city’s top priority.  Moreover, actions to fulfill that goal need to be tied to the city’s budget.  To achieve the goal, the city needs to alter its approach and expand its view beyond Sailwinds.  We need to cooperate more with the county possibly through the creation of an independent agency.  It should be staffed by professional marketers with local staff support and guidance by a board of directors comprised of our most successful entrepreneurs.

  1. Complex regulatory processes and the City tax rates are often cited as burdens that make the City less attractive to new and expanding businesses. What are your thoughts on improving the City’s ability to attract and retain business?

Cities impose zoning regulation to control the conflicting demands of businesses and city residents.  The new Unified Development Code strives to strike a balance between these competing interests.  Members of the Planning Commission and the City Planner administer the application of the UDC to all businesses operating in the city.  As the city’s liaison to the Planning Commission, I monitor its activities and I am not shy in expressing concern about overly restrictive requirements.  Similarly, most of our downtown businesses are located in the city’s Historic District where the Historic Preservation Commission oversees any exterior building modifications.  In some cases, HPC is reaching beyond the limits of its authority and I plan to ask Council to remind them about their limits.  I would also propose to survey recent cases and all new cases to gain more insight of the process from the perspective of the business owner.   The survey should also encourage suggestions as to how to improve the process.

During my first year in office, the mayor proposed a property tax increase of 4 cents based on reduced assessments.  I led the fight to reject this proposal and won the battle

by convincing three commissioners that the increase would make us less competitive.

We need to be heading in the other direction by demanding more efficiency from departments and by challenging some sacred cows.  There is simply too much of “We always did it that way.”  Fortunately, the new City Manager and the new Chief of Police are also challenging the status quo.

  1. What is your vision for the redevelopment of the Sailwinds Park property and how should the City facilitate that effort?

Both the city and the state envision a mixed use for the 12-acre Sailwinds property.  Recently, Council entered into a long-term, market-rate lease with Yacht Maintenance Co. for two of the acres.  I strongly supported the lease.  YMC is under new ownership and they plan to modernize to accommodate up to ten 130’ vessels simultaneously.  This action rescued 30 jobs and will likely result in at least 30 more.  I view this negotiation as a model for further development.

Two recent RFPs should give us a better idea of what might work on the remaining 10 acres.  One is for a broker to market the property and one is for a consultant to advise us on the site’s marketability.  This plan is superior to the previous approach and allows for maximum flexibility.  In choosing developers, we need to emphasize the importance of the deep-water port.  Doing so would allow us to apply for additional grants associated with working waterfronts.

The state has set aside $4M of the estimated $6.5M needed to repair the wharf.  The city would need to borrow the difference.  The city is foolishly spending some of the state’s money to restore the wharf without knowing the impact on potential development.  I favor holding out the $4M as a carrot to potential developers.  Scheduled wharf repairs are also adversely impacting operations at Governors Hall.  The series of threatened shutdowns represents a profound lack of understanding and insensitivity to a business that is contributing to the local economy.

  1. What are your thoughts on continuing and accelerating the revitalization of commercial and residential property in the City of Cambridge?

Cambridge has benefited from risk takers who bought buildings and refurbished them.  I include myself in that group.  Visionaries who fill empty space with upscale apartments, trendy restaurants, and even a brewery should be encouraged with tax credits, streamlined regulations, and the support of our citizenry.

We need new policies to address properties falling into decay.  Stepped up enforcement of building codes, especially on rental property, is a must.  Low interest loans for those who cannot afford repairs should be available.  Façade improvement grants should be prioritized based on need.  The current policy of fines and abatements works only if the owner has the means and actually cares.  Some owners have abandoned their property and for them, punishment does not work.  In such cases, the city needs to be willing to make repairs to protect important historic structures. We should partner with organizations like Habitat for Humanity who has expanded its mission to include restoration.  Demolition should be the exception rather than the norm.

Until we change our policies, abandoned properties will fall into the hands of the county due to state laws regulating tax sales.  If unsold at tax sale, the city should redeem the property to gain control.  Using partners like Habitat, these properties can become homes for working families.

Commercial properties like the Hearn Building are important enough to garner significant federal and state tax credits.  Investors use these credits to subsidize their revitalization.  Done well, such restoration contributes to the fabric of an historic downtown.

  1. If elected, how would you use the Chamber and the business community in your role as a City Official?

The Chamber of Commerce and Cambridge Main Street (CMS) are key components of economic development.  They are the boots on the ground and the city’s economic development team needs to listen to their needs and heed their advice.  Clearly, the Chamber and CMS have extensive experience at setting up events and working out the details that make local events so popular.  Whether it is a beer festival, a fly-in at Horn Point, the power boat regatta, Summer Sendoff, or any of the myriad of activities, the Chamber and CMS are usually heavily involved to make Cambridge and Dorchester County shine.

The newest iconic symbol atop the amphitheater is a prime example of the symbiotic relationship between the various business groups.  Its design and creation used local talent and resources to support Ironman which attracts thousands to our area.  We need to extend that level of cooperation into the public arena.

Dorchester County and Cambridge must use the example of the Chamber and CMS to export our message to attract more industry.  The same united effort that has boosted tourism needs to be applied to industry to create more and better paying jobs.  Both governments must work together to fashion a program to fill our empty warehouses and to restore our industrial base.  The Chamber and CMS will be key players in the success of this venture.

I see the presidents of both organizations on the Board of Directors of the new entity created and funded by the city and county.

Additional sources for Information on candidate views:

www.votefrankcooke.com

 

Office: Commissioner Ward 3

Candidate: La-Shon M. Foster

  1. What do you view as Cambridge’s greatest assets and how would you work with the City and other stakeholders to utilize those assets to advance the City’s economic and community development?

At the present time, our greatest asset is our waterway, our rich cultural history and our historic buildings and sites in Cambridge. Utilizing our greatest assets, has the potential to increase service productivity, goods and raw talent from our citizens, which can lead to economic growth and community development. One example of utilizing our waterway is developing tourism, and watercraft recreation; i.e., paddle boats, canoeing, and other family orientated recreation.  These ideas are just a few examples of how we can utilize our waterway, history, and historic areas of Cambridge to stimulate economic growth and community development.  Example; Carnival Cruise Line, cruises through Dorchester County every week, with the right activities and tourist attractions, the city of Cambridge could work out a contract with Carnival lines where Cambridge can be a port of call.  That in itself opens up other jobs, such as tenders for site seeing and getting to shore, tour buses, local talent to provide goods and service, our local seafood restaurants, and much more. Utilizing tourism in conjunction with other activities Cambridge may have going on at any given time can bring more people to our city, utilizing our services and goods, therefore stimulating our economic growth and development. Working with the city and other stakeholders will require many meetings and legal advice on how our municipality can proceed with services of this nature.  However, one should start with the greatest stakeholder we have, the residents of Cambridge. Surveying our city residents for their input on what they collectively feel will have an impact on economic growth and community development is vital.

  1. Complex regulatory processes and the City tax rates are often cited as burdens that make the City less attractive to new and expanding businesses. What are your thoughts on improving the City’s ability to attract and retain business?

In order to attract new and expanding businesses, the city of Cambridge must first be able to maintain home ownership in Cambridge, attractive new residents to live here, own homes, and be a vital resource for business to grow in our economy.  We have many subdivisions in Cambridge that was built in hopes of attracting home owners to increase the revenue for both our city and our local business. However due to our personal property tax rate, homeowners often sell or rent their homes out.  Subdivisions have gone incomplete, due to the homeownership sales in Cambridge going down.  One of the main reasons most people sell and leave their homes in Cambridge is due to our personal property tax rate.  We need, increase home ownership, and lower our property tax rate so our local residents are able to financially support local and new business, therefore, enabling our community to finically support business.

  1. What is your vision for the redevelopment of the Sailwinds Park property and how should the City facilitate that effort?

We should first take the time out and see what local residents would like to see at Sailwinds Park.  Meet with stakeholders, (city residents), and other’s to ensure that the best plan, will incorporate the vast majority of Cambridge resident’s thoughts and feelings on the Sailwind redevelopment project.  My vision is to utilize our waterway in a way to will benefit the citizens of Cambridge.  A city attraction on the water is an idea. (Mini golf, paddle boats, water front stores, etc.).

  1. What are your thoughts on continuing and accelerating the revitalization of commercial and residential property in the City of Cambridge?

My thoughts are to continue the revitalization of commercial and residential property in the City of Cambridge, as long as it includes the entire city and not just a few streets. We have had many projects over the years, and grants to revitalize certain areas in Cambridge.  My concern is that the revitalization project, does not stretch across all wards in the city of Cambridge and/or the impact is greater for some wards than others.

  1. If elected, how would you use the Chamber and the business community in your role as a city official?

If elected, I would look to the Chamber and business community to gain insight on what type of businesses, can be sustained in our community. I would meet with the Chambers to assess what is seen as barriers to business sustainability and longevity in our community.  I would be interested in meeting monthly with the Chambers as to what goals we as city officials can set and implement to assist in maintaining, and attracting new businesses to our community.

 

Office: Commissioner Ward 4

Candidate: Dion D. Banks

  1. What do you view as Cambridge’s greatest assets and how would you work with the City and other stakeholders to utilize those assets to advance the City’s economic community development?

The City’s greatest asset is its location and its many designations.   Cambridge is located in an area of Maryland that is classified as a “One Maryland County” which means we are in a priority funding area.  This designation prequalifies us for available state income tax credits up to $5.5 million for job creation, up to $500K available for startup companies and many other revenue streams that could advance the City’s economic development goals.

Cambridge is also named by the State as an Identified Incentive Zone which makes all business owners and startups in Cambridge pre-qualified for various state programs.

Additionally, we are located in a qualified HUB Zone which could help position existing manufacturing companies to play a role in government contracting.  Cambridge can be marketed as a location for contractors and potentially play a role in this 447.6-billion-dollar industry.

One of our greatest untapped resources is our beautiful port.  We have the second deepest port in the state of Maryland.  In the past it has not been marketed as a resource that could play a role in job creation and economic development.  We now live in a world without borders and cannot afford to overlook any opportunities.

The offshore wind project is a perfect example of an opportunity we could play a major role in by positioning ourselves as a port for assembly and shipping for the multi-million dollar project that will take place off the coast of Ocean City.  Opportunities like this create revenue and jobs.

  1. Complex regulatory processes and the City tax rates are often cited as burdens that make the City less attractive to new and expanding businesses. What are your thoughts on improving the City’s ability to attract and retain businesses?

The regulatory process of the City of Cambridge of starting a business is on a lengthy timeline, and the tax structure compared to other counties and neighboring states makes Cambridge less attractive.  In order to attract and retain businesses we have to address these issues.  To do that, we should first study the regulatory processes of neighboring counties and similar municipalities to look for ways that we can shorten our processes and making doing business in Cambridge easier.  Additionally, we need to look at tax reductions for small business owners, and growth incentives for expanding businesses to ensure their sustainability.

Once we have addressed these issues, it should be easier to attract new business and retain existing businesses here in Cambridge.

To understand the issues regarding taxes, that creates the burdens for our local business owners, we need to conduct a comprehensive audit of our municipal revenue sources and expenditures.  We then need to find a way to incentivize investment and companies who expand their business measured by employee growth.

I would also recommend having continuous discussions about our workforce, zoning, blighted spots in our community, homeownership, and infrastructure.  These are important issues in creating a sustainable Cambridge.

As a small town, we need to identify the assets that will make us attractive to potential businesses across the nation.  We need to create our own targets for potential business we want here.  From this we create incentives for redevelopment and share our message while encouraging investment in our community.

  1. What is your vision for the redevelopment of the Sailwinds Park Property and how should the City facilitate that effort?

My vision for Sailwinds is a mixed-use facility that the entire community has access to and which also has limited residential space.  It should promote the culture of our community.  It should be designed with the intent to attract people off of Route 50 and increase revenue for the City.

With Sailwinds being a part of the Waterfront 2020 plan, this portion of the project should capture the vision of the overall project, therefore it is important that the execution of Sailwinds have the end concept in mind.

I am in favor of supporting a project that generates revenue for the City, employs our local citizens, and has the potential to become a destination for people all over the country, however I think the City should also be considering opportunities involving the waterfront that are not solely focused on promoting Cambridge as a resort or retirement town.  Cambridge has the second deepest port in the entire state of Maryland and we should be utilizing that unique asset to attract business.  While the Waterfront 2020 project will offer jobs, those types of jobs typically do not offer benefits.

While focusing on this project, I am also conscious of our economic state and the lack of good paying jobs.  I would like to have a conversation about the entire water front that takes a more exploratory look at the entire area; one that not only thinks about tourism, but also takes into account attracting industries to help address the need for jobs.

  1. What are your thoughts on continuing and accelerating the revitalization of commercial and residential property in the city of Cambridge?

As a City Commissioner, it would be my responsibility to make sure the owners of residential and commercial property are aware of government programs and organizations that could potentially help them with maintaining and improving their properties.

In terms of residential properties, I would aggressively support current laws, fines, and policies regarding substandard properties and hold property owners accountable.   This would help us focus on a major issue in the 4th Ward which is substandard housing and blighted properties.   I would aggressively enforce these laws.

  1. If elected, how would you use the Chamber and the business community in your role as a City Official?

My primary goal as a City Official in the City of Cambridge would be to create social and economic prosperity for every citizen in the City.  Our business owners are the blood that flows through our community and play a major role in my primary goal.

As an active member of the business community for almost 15 years, my observation has been that there is room for strengthening the relationship between businesses, the Chamber, and the City.

As a Commissioner I would strengthen those relationships by facilitating quarterly work sessions to identify what is working, not working, and what is still needed.

From these sessions we would create a 5 year plan that would formalize a partnership.   The overall goal of this venture will be to retain and strengthen existing businesses and attract new businesses.  Doing so would retain and bring new jobs and economic prosperity to Cambridge.

Additional sources for Information on candidate views:

www.dionbanks4change.com

https://www.facebook.com/dionbanks4change/

https://twitter.com/DionBanks4Chg

https://www.instagram.com/dionbanks4chg/

 

Office: Commissioner Ward 4

Candidate: Dave Cannon

  1. What do you view as Cambridge’s greatest assets and how would you work with the City and other stakeholders to utilize those assets to advance the City’s economic and community development?

The greatest assets our city has are number one the business leaders who have grown and operated their businesses for years. We need to engage their expertise to find out how they have built and sustained their business in a community with the workforce and social challenges we have. We need to reach out to these professionals of which there are several, retired and who are running major companies now, ask them for their expertise and knowledge find out what they need to grow their companies and what we can do to help them in return. When Cambridge grows so will they.

Secondly is our location, in every aspect of business and economic development location, location, location is key and we have a great location. We are one of the most accessible communities in the region, our city offers easy access from the metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Washington and Virginia rather it be by automobile, boat or plane. We are a great place to expand a business and this should be promoted in those markets. We should work with the Chamber to do this and make a special effort to bring in an Economic Development Director with the experience and who has major ties throughout the region as we did with our City Manager.

  1. Complex regulatory processes and the City tax rates are often cited as burdens that make the City less attractive to new and expanding businesses. What are your thoughts on improving the City’s ability to attract and retain business?

Complex regulations and the tax rate may be problems for a lot of small businesses who open or want to open, but I believe a much bigger problem is lack of employable people. Our workforce is a major factor in recruiting and retaining business, we do not have a viable workforce. We need to work with local businesses and educators to develop internships for our youth who want to learn trades, such as the work programs from years past where a student after receiving so many credits towards graduation could during school hour’s work at a local business and learn a trade while earning a wage. Not every student will attend a college but if we work with those who have no plans to attend we are taking the first step in not only developing a viable workforce but creating a sense of self-worth. With this said we must not forget our older adults when it comes to workforce training. There are many in this community who have been laid off or the business closed and left them looking for a new career, we need to setup a partnership with Chesapeake College, the Board of Education, the County and the city to develop programs for those who want to learn a new trade. With the addition of the Dorchester Career and Technology Center here in Cambridge, an underutilized facility and I might add one of the best in the state we have the perfect location to do so.

  1. What is your vision for the redevelopment of the Sailwinds Park property and how should the City facilitate that effort?

The property known has Sailwinds Park as everyone knows is a prime piece of waterfront and has no equal in the whole state of Maryland, we need to protect it for future generations to enjoy. It’s enviable that it will be developed but we as a community need to control that development especially with the possibility of the adjacent hospital property being sold and developed, which is out of the city’s control. When the state of Maryland agreed to sell it back to our city they had certain requirements that need to be adhered to and we should do everything possible to honor those request but at the same time not reduce the public access to the Waterfront Park a beautiful place. The present city council has received comments from the citizens not only in Cambridge but outlining areas on possible uses, this shows the importance of the decisions we need to make. I in vision a place where community activities can take place along with a multi-purpose facility that could house a restaurant, shops and an event venue while embracing the possibility of cruise ships, private yachts docking there and a place for watercraft rentals all open to the public. It is my understanding that a portion of the property have some type of residential factor, which could be incorporated but out away from the waterfront, maybe along the outlining streets. We should not sell this jewel but set up a long term lease with the chosen developer.

  1. What are your thoughts on continuing and accelerating the revitalization of commercial and residential property in the City of Cambridge?

The revitalization of commercial and residential property to me are two different issues. First the commercial property has to fall under the economic development plan and hiring a new Economic Development Director is an essential part of that. With the renewed relationship developed between our local governments through our new City and County Managers it may be possible to partner our efforts to bring new business to our community and at the same time help established local businesses to expand and grow.

The revitalization of residential is a whole other problem. For the past 16 years I have severed on the Housing Board of Review for the City of Cambridge, I was appointed in 2000 by then Mayor David Wooten and have since seen landlords suck the life out of the rental housing in our city without being held accountable. We need to enforce housing codes and hold the owners responsible. As a city commissioner I would work with other city leaders, organization and developers to implement a plan to help develop home ownership possibly using a program modeled after Habitat for Humanity or maybe selling the blighted homes to residents who will buy them and rehab them with the help of the city and agree to live in them for a predetermined number of years before they can be sold. There are a number of properties and houses being sold by the county for taxes owed or even below what is owed, let’s take advantage of that.

  1. If elected, how would you use the Chamber and the business community in your role as a City Official?

As a member of the Dorchester Chamber Board of Directors and being involved with the chamber for several years I know firsthand that some very knowledgeable business owners want what’s best for our community and the City of Cambridge. If elected to the Cambridge City Council I would start a conversation with our mayor and other commissioners to embrace the Chamber as a partner in finding the much needed expertise of an Economic Development Director or consultant who can reach out to major business developers throughout the region and market our wonderful community. We have the best physical assets in the region and need to develop a workforce that would change the face and reputation of Cambridge in the eyes of our regional neighbors. I was fortunate to be born and raised in Cambridge and have lived here most of my adult life, I have seen our failures and our successes while most recently seeing the resurgent’s as a community making great progress not only in business but as a people, this makes my desire to serve on our city council, to represent the families and the businesses in our community strong and with one goal in mind. Making us proud of our Cambridge again.

Additional sources for Information on candidate views:

www.facebook.com/cannonforcambridge

 

Office: Commissioner Ward 4

Candidate: Carlos L. Wilson

  1. What do you view as Cambridge’s greatest assets and how would you work with the city and other stakeholders to utilize those assets to advance the city’s economic and community development?

One of Cambridge’s greatest assets is our water front properties and Sailwinds. These projects need to move forward by finding a master developer to proceed with the development of the ten acres of land and work closely with Dorchester General Hospital, if that property should become available.

  1. Complex regulatory processes and the city tax rates are often cited as burdens that make the city less attractive to new and expanding businesses. What are your thoughts on improving the city’s ability to attract and retain businesses?

The city and county economics department must work together in order to attract and obtain businesses in the City of Cambridge. The city and county will need to find ways to increase revenue by expanding the tax base in order to reduce taxes for all. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just about Cambridge, it’s about the entire county of Dorchester.

  1. What is your vision for the redevelopment of the Sailwinds Park property and how should the city facilitate that effort?

This project needs to move forward as stated in question #1. This is one of Cambridge’s greatest assets. We need to make sure it stays that way.

  1. What are your thoughts on continuing and accelerating the revitalization of commercial and residential property in the City of Cambridge?

We need to continue to revitalize commercial properties by concentrating on the block of Race St. Again, we need to work closely with the county in order to move

  1. If elected, how would you use the Chamber and the business community in your role as a City Official?

First and foremost, it takes everyone to move this city forward. No, not everyone will agree on everything but if we make EVERY effort to work TOGETHER, it’s no way we could fail. Not just with the Chamber and the local businesses but also with the people of this city. Without people, there is NO city/business/chamber. We have to work together to encourage, as much as we can, our local people to continue to shop local. It’s a win win for everyone.

I would love to see the Chamber to work with our businesses and come up with incentives for employers. Maybe gift certificates that the employers could buy, at a reasonable price that could be used throughout the city. This could not only keep the employee moral better in the work place but it would also be good business for our businesses as well as our Chamber.

 

Office: Commissioner Ward 5

Candidate: Robert L. Hanson

  1. What do you view as Cambridge’s greatest assets and how would you work with the City and other stakeholders to utilize those assets to advance the City’s economic and community development?

Cambridge’s greatest assets are its location and people. Situated on the Choptank River we have such potential!  Our current Gateway Entrance project into Cambridge is the beginning of the “Come see Cambridge” effort that we have sorely needed.  The Eastern Shore Innovation Center (incubator) is a model to attract entrepreneurship and business development in our county and city. With city and community stakeholders working together we can advance our economic goals by pursuing industry and businesses that will want to come to Cambridge to live and work.

  1. Complex regulatory processes and the City tax rates are often cited as burdens that make the City less attractive to new and expanding businesses. What are your thoughts on improving the City’s ability to attract and retain business?

Tax incentives for new industry and business have been, and will continue to be, a goal of mine.  For the first time in many years, our relationship with County and State government has created an enhanced working environment that allows partnerships to exist, with the goal of attracting and retaining a viable workforce.  We need to take advantage of what is already in place – Dorchester Regional Technology Park (with the county), Cambridge – Dorchester County Airport and the infrastructure of a water and sewer plant that is underutilized.  I would like to see increased utilization of our Dorchester County Career and Technology Center for training/retraining our workforce.

  1. What is your vision for the redevelopment of the Sailwinds Park property and how should the City facilitate that effort?

The Council sees the development of Sailwinds as an opportunity to make that area a “must see” destination. The focus and purpose of Sailwinds should be on our working water heritage.  It has been suggested, by our citizenship, that we have an interactive museum and learning center on site in conjunction with the Richardson Foundation.  I am also an advocate of continued waterfront access for our citizens to enjoy.  A feasibility study will take place to further guide the city and public on possible uses for this property, including Governor’s Hall. We are currently moving toward the wharf replacement and a promenade. I remain an advocate of open meetings and public input during this project.

  1. What are your thoughts on continuing and accelerating the revitalization of commercial and residential property in the City of Cambridge?

During my tenure, a Senior Tax Credit for home ownership in Cambridge was initiated, and is still in place. In addition, we should continue the Downtown Development Investments for businesses in the commercial areas.  These incentives will accelerate tax base formation for the city and in turn will help revitalize our home and business ownership.

  1. If elected, how would you use the Chamber and the business community in your role as a City Official?

In my service as a city commissioner it has been my pleasure to work with the Chamber in establishing a business friendly approach to economic development.  As a member of the Mid-Shore Regional Council, I have worked with various Chambers throughout the region in presenting our city as an attractive and supportive business location.  Cambridge City Council readily utilizes the business professionals of the Chamber as catalysts in forming the economic goals of this City.

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