Ch­e­sa­peake City to elect mayor, coun­cil Mon­day

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— Town res­i­dents will ei­ther sup­port Mayor Dean Geraci­mos or elect change in Coun­cil­man Frank Vari at the top of Mon­day’s bal­lot.

They will also have choices on town coun­cil, as in­cum­bent coun­cil­men Harry Samp­son and Tom Mor­ris are be­ing chal­lenged by Joe Mac­Don­ald and Bill Staker.

Polls will open be open from 1 to 7:30 p.m. Mon­day at town hall on the south side and the fire hall on the north side.

CH­E­SA­PEAKE CITY

Dean Geraci­mos

Mayor Dean Geraci­mos is run­ning on his record as he seeks a third term with op­po­si­tion from col­league Coun­cil­man Frank Vari.

“We have proven our lead­er­ship, in­tegrity, progress and results over the past six years – two on coun­cil and four as mayor,” he said. “I don’t care to be the face of Ch­e­sa­peake City; the town and the res­i­dents are the real face of Ch­e­sa­peake City.”

Geraci­mos has high­lighted the more than $19 mil­lion that his ad­min­is­tra­tion has been able to ob­tain in fed­eral, state and county grants that have sup­ported the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the his multi-pronged re­vi­tal­iza­tion plan. Un­der his ten­ure, the town has fin­ished ef­forts to con­nect to Arte­sian Wa­ter, opened the Ben Cardin Recre­ational Trail along the C&D Canal and worked to beau­tify the his­toric down­town.

Despite his op­po­nent’s po­si­tions, Geraci­mos said that he will con­tinue his busi­ness­man-like style of run­ning the town.

“It’s 2016, times have changed and this is the way to run a town to­day,” he said, not­ing that his cell­phone num­ber is widely dis­sem­i­nated amongst resi- dents and many reach out to him. “You can­not be ev­ery­thing to ev­ery­one, but I al­ways put the town as a whole first.

“I will never be the “face” of Ch­e­sa­peake City. I will not be the guy who sits on the lead pa­rade float. I will be the guy at the end thank­ing ev­ery­one for com­ing.”

Geraci­mos said that he’s proven the abil­ity to make a vi­sion a re­al­ity and hopes vot­ers val­i­date his work over the past four years by elect­ing him to a third term. If so, he would tackle qual­ity of life is­sues, like park­ing and noise, in a new term.

“The qual­ity of life here is the most im­por­tant thing,” he said. “If you can­not park near your house or can­not sleep at night be­cause of the noise, then those are the things that need to be ad­dressed.”

Frank Vari

Coun­cil­man Frank Vari is once again chal­leng­ing Dean Geraci­mos for the mayor’s seat af­ter fall­ing just a few votes short four years ago.

At the top of his grass­roots cam­paign is his motto: Ac­ces­si­ble, vis­i­ble and present.

“I will be a vis­i­ble and ac­ces­si­ble mayor, just as I have been on coun­cil and on the plan­ning and zon­ing com­mis­sion,” he said. “As a mayor, I’m go­ing to be re­spon­sive to the needs and wants of the res­i­dents, be­cause they pay the bulk of the taxes and util­ity rates. I will also keep reg­u­lar blocks of hours in town hall, which will be pub­lished for the res­i­dents to know.”

Vari points to his ex­pe­ri­ence, which started years ago when he helped write the town’s com­pre­hen­sive plan and its new ar­chi­tec­tural stan­dards. While he be­lieves Geraci­mos takes much of the credit for the town’s re­cent suc­cess, Vari said ef­forts for those chang- es be­gan in the years be­fore the mayor’s cur­rent ten­ure.

“We’ve worked hard through the years to get the wa­ter and sewer where they are to­day,” he said. “Dean and I were coun­cil­men to­gether when we started six years ago, and peo­ple are just start­ing to see the results now.”

Vari also high­lights his lead­er­ship through the cre­ation of the town’s sal­vage­able met­als pro­gram and pop­u­lar 5K races, which pay for the town’s res­i­den­tial sin­gle-stream re­cy­cling pro­gram. Re­cy­cling costs the town $9,200 a year, but the two races more than pay for it.

“I saw a need to help off­set the cost of the re­cy­cling pro­gram and I cre­ated the races to do that,” he said. “Peo­ple may some­times say that that’s old news, but is it if the town would have to raise rates with­out the races?”

Joe Mac­Don­ald

Joe Mac­Don­ald, who is mak­ing his first run at elected of­fice, de­scribes him­self as the “re­luc­tant can­di­date.”

The re­tired south-side res­i­dent said he wasn’t sure whether to file for of­fice, but his fam­ily, friends and neigh­bors en­cour­aged him to do so.

“I am run­ning for coun­cil be­cause so many of you asked me to serve,” he said. “I’m ad­vo­cat­ing for the voice of Ch­e­sa­peake City.”

Mac­Don­ald said he was tired of see­ing res­i­dents left with­out choices in some re­cent elec­tions, and be­lieved that vot­ers should have a choice in their elected of­fi­cials. De­clin­ing to be pho­tographed for the Whig, Mac­Don­ald said that he had vis­ited nearly ev­ery res­i­dent in town and per­son­ally spo­ken with them about their con­cerns.

“The vot­ers of Ch­e­sa­peake City al­ready know who I am and what I rep­re­sent,” he said.

Mac­Don­ald said that he promised to em­body “ac­count­abil­ity, avail­abil­ity, em­pa­thy, re­spect and ser­vice” if elected to coun­cil.

Tom Mor­ris

Tom Mor­ris, a 26-year town res­i­dent, is seek­ing his sec­ond term on town coun­cil in or­der to con­tinue to be a li­ai­son for the pub­lic.

As the cur­rent Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany No. 1 of Ch­e­sa­peake City fire chief, Mor­ris al­ready has a lot of con­tact with town res­i­dents, but he wants to be a voice for res­i­dents.

“I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learn­ing,” he said. “I’m seek­ing re-elec­tion be­cause I was raised to be­lieve that pub­lic ser­vice is a noble ser­vice, but I be­lieve that it should be done for the right rea­sons.”

Mor­ris said that despite Ch­e­sa­peake City be­ing di­vided by the C&D Canal, he wants to con­tinue to sup­port ef­forts that join all res­i­dents to­gether.

“I be­lieve we need to be one town, despite the unique­ness of our two sides,” he said.

As the coun­cil’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive re­spon­si­ble for safety and side­walks, Mor­ris said he also wants to con­tinue ef­forts to im­prove those ar­eas.

“I strive for the safety of our res­i­dents and I like to keep an open di­a­logue with the res­i­dents,” he sad. “I’m also in charge of side­walks and that’s a big un­der­tak­ing. I’d like to over­see a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of our side­walks and how they can be beau­ti­fied.”

Harry Samp­son

Harry Samp­son fell in love with Ch­e­sa­peake City af­ter vis­it­ing by boat from his orig­i­nal New Jer­sey home more than 20 years ago.

“I used to boat down here and sleep on my 19-footer,” he said. “It’s a very dif­fer­ent town now and I’ve seen a lot of re­ally pos­i­tive change through the years. It’s a great place to­day, and I’m proud to say I live in Ch­e­sa­peake City.”

Samp­son has been an ac­tive member of the town’s govern­ment for 19 years, serv­ing 10 years on the town coun­cil and nine years on the Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion. He now seeks a sixth term on coun­cil, where he cur­rently serves as the coun­cil­man in charge of wa­ter and sewer ser­vice, roads and the his­toric district.

“I like what I do and I like rep­re­sent­ing the peo­ple of Ch­e­sa­peake City,” he said.

The re­tired PSE&G civil en­gi­neer is al­ready look­ing at ways that the town could save more money into the fu­ture.

“I plan on in­sti­tut­ing man­hole in­spec­tions to cor­rect any prob­lems that are found in the town’s ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture,” he said. “I also want to fo­cus on pre­ven­ta­tive projects, such as lin­ing ex­ist­ing wa­ter mains with a slip liner in­side the pipe much like we’ve done with sewer pipes. That liner ad­heres to the pipe and pre­vents cracks from be­com­ing larger breaks.”

Dur­ing his ten­ure on coun­cil, Samp­son has also sought to trans­fer ex­cess fund­ing from the wa­ter and sewer in­vest­ment funds into the gen­eral fund to help bal­ance the bud­get and pre­vent­ing po­ten­tial tax in­creases.

“I want to con­tinue to be a ser­vant for the town,” he said.

Bill Staker

Bill Staker, a life­long res­i­dent of Ch­e­sa­peake City, is mak­ing his sec­ond bid at town coun­cil be­cause he wants to en­sure that the progress un­der the Geraci­mos ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues.

“You’ve got a train mov­ing full steam ahead and now there is the threat of de­rail­ing that progress,” he said, not­ing that he be­lieves Coun­cil­man Frank Vari is prop­erly suited for his cur­rent role. “Mayor Geraci­mos has all the right con­nec­tions to keep us mov­ing for­ward and I want to sup­port him.”

An­other cause that is close to Staker’s heart is the goal of turn­ing Bank Street on the north side to a one-way street, an is­sue that he be­lieves is para­mount to pub­lic safety.

“Right now, pedes­tri­ans can­not even walk from the new canal trail to Schae­fer’s safely due to two-way traf­fic,” he said. “Just the other day, I wit­nessed two young moth­ers with strollers barely able to squeeze past cars in ei­ther di­rec­tion.”

While the de­ci­sion to block traf­fic one way on Bank Street may not be pop­u­lar to all, Staker said those are the types of de­ci­sions that elected of­fi­cials should make.

“Serv­ing in elected of­fice shouldn’t be a pop­u­lar­ity con­test, it should be about mak­ing the hard, some­times un­pop­u­lar, de­ci­sions that are for the bet­ter­ment of the town,” he said.

As a re­tired law en­force­ment of­fi­cer and pre­vi­ous town code en­force­ment, Staker said he also wants to help over­see the re­view of the town’s or­di­nances, many of which he said are woe­fully out of date. He said he also wants to help sup­port es­tab­lished busi­nesses in town and fos­ter the de­vel­op­ment of new ones.

VARI

SAMP­SON

GERACI­MOS

MOR­RIS

STAKER

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