Perryville ballot set, Brown retires
Eberhardt unopposed again
— Mayor Jim Eberhardt is once again alone on the ballot in the town’s May 10 election.
Meanwhile, incumbent Commissioner Ray Ryan III faces two challengers in his bid for re-election. Robert Ashby and Anthony Gerst have filed as candidates. The deadline passed Monday at 5:30 p.m.
For the first time in 14 years, Barbara Brown’s name will not be on the ballot.
“I put my time in with seven terms,” Brown said Sunday. “It’s time for someone else to step up to the plate.”
She’s been involved in Perryville town government nearly 40 years, serving 25 years on planning and zoning before winning her first election in May 2002. Now 72, Brown said she wants to focus on other activities.
“I belong to a lot of different organizations and I hold offices in most of them,” she said.
Add to that, she still spends two days per week in physical therapy for an injury suffered more than a year ago. Brown hasn’t been to a town meeting since September 2014, citing her own mobility issues and the steep incline of the ramp leading
into town hall. While Perryville’s charter has no attendance requirement for elected officials, the town recently passed an ordinance allowing the mayor and commissioners to attend electronically up to three times per year. Brown has one call-in left.
Her last town meeting will be May 3. However, Brown noted she grew up in Perryville and she isn’t leaving.
“I will see everyone I saw before,” she said, noting that now she will only no longer be a public official. “I will miss working, particularly with the parks people.”
Brown also enjoyed being able to answer questions and help people find solutions.
Fourteen years ago, not long after Brown’s first win, then-Mayor Steve Pearson encouraged Brown to attend the Maryland Municipal League summer conference in Ocean City.
“I came back and I was ready to tear this place apart,” she said. “I just wanted to bring things to Perryville that other towns had. I came back with briefcases full of information and knowledge.” “I came home and wrote grants,” she said. Among her successful grant proposals was a $1.2 million Project Open Space award that allowed the town to purchase the Meck property for a waterfront town park.
Another success was the taxation of hotels, which Brown said brings several hundred dollars in revenue into town each month.
“The money is dedicated to tourism,” she said. “It was a hard sell. Some members of
the board wanted no new taxes. But the taxes weren’t being paid by the people of Perryville. They are levied on people who are using our services.”
She regrets that she won’t be in office when the Rodgers Tavern Museum opens. Passionate about local history, Brown saw the Colonial-era building through restoration and renovation.
“It’s still a work in progress,” she said. “We do have a group of folks cataloguing all the artifacts.”
Brown also shepherded the kayak launch, walking trails, park improvements including playground equipment and the acquisition of new park land. She also had a major role in the construction of the transit pier, which brings boaters into town at Rodgers Tavern.
Perryville Appreciation Days, AutumnFest, Spring Fling and the Diamond in the
Rough Triathlon also have her mark.
Recently, Brown said she came to the realization that there was never going to be a good time to quit.
“You always want to finish what you’ve started but you’re never finished. There’s always something going on,” she said. “When you have been into this as much as I have it takes a while for you to step back.”
So what will her first official act be as a former elected official?
“I’m going to get rid of my cellphone,” she said, adding she didn’t want a town cellphone anyway.
And when her home phone rings and the voice on the other end asks for Commissioner Brown?
“I’ll politely tell them to call town hall and that I am no longer an elected official. Period,” she said.
Confetti rains down on the House of Delegates at midnight on Monday, the last day of the 2016 Maryland General Assembly.