McClam run­ning for District 2 commissioner

Ca­reer civil ser­vant sees op­por­tu­ni­ties for eco­nomic growth

Maryland Independent - - News - By PAUL LA­GASSE pla­gasse@somd­news.com

Ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion is a key theme in Charles McClam’s cam­paign for District 2 commissioner. As an in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer in the U.S. mil­i­tary dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Desert Storm, deputy chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer at the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, and CIO of the U.S. Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, McClam says that suc­cess­ful lead­er­ship means gath­er­ing and shar­ing in­for­ma­tion widely.

“I see a need for lead­er­ship to meet peo­ple where they live to gain an un­der­stand­ing of their day-to-day is­sues,” McClam said in a re­cent in­ter­view. “With­out that, you’re just not do­ing a good ser­vice.”

McClam cites the con­tro­versy over the Wa­ter­shed Con­ser­va­tion District as an ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when com­mu­ni­ca­tion breaks down.

“The peo­ple that I’ve talked to feel that they were not given a fair op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand what was in­volved with the leg­is­la­tion,” said McClam. “They feel that they’ve been ham­strung with re­spect to how they can make the best use of their land, and they want an out­let and en­gage­ment with the folks that live there that will cause them to re­visit this leg­is­la­tion.”

Run­ning as a Demo­crat, McClam was the first to file as a chal­lenger for the seat, which is cur­rently held by De­bra M. Davis (D). McClam has been a Charles County res­i­dent for over 15 years.

McClam says that his di­verse ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with largescale fed­eral pro­grams in agri­cul­ture, law en­force­ment and small busi­ness suits him well for iden­ti­fy­ing and tak­ing ad­van­tage of eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for the county.

“We need to start look­ing for smart ways to help this county grow and be­come the eco­nomic en­gine and pow­er­house of South­ern Mary­land,” McClam said. “It’s not go­ing to hap­pen by it­self. You need lead­er­ship that has the vi­sion to look 10 to 15 years down the road and fig­ure out the best ap­proach to take to en­sure smart growth, which doesn’t hap­pen as a mat­ter of course.”

McClam would like to see the county ex­plore ways to bet­ter use the land along the Po­tomac River. He points to Myr­tle Beach in his na­tive South Carolina as an ex­am­ple of how thought­ful devel­op­ment turned the town into its county’s eco­nomic driver.

“They have trans­formed the place,” he said. “You name it, they have it. And that has pro­vided a rev­enue stream for the county that al­lows them to look at other ini­tia­tives that in the past they may not have been able to.”

Im­prov­ing the county’s trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture re­quires lead­ers to think re­gion­ally, McClam ar­gues. “We can’t af­ford to work in a mi­cro­cosm,” he said. “We have to fig­ure out ways to col­lab­o­rate with our neigh­bors.” The new Gov. Harry W. Nice Me­mo­rial Bridge could stim­u­late travel to and from King Ge­orge County in Vir­ginia, he said, while con­tin­ued devel­op­ment around Na­tional Har­bor opens up pos­si­bil­i­ties to col­lab­o­rate with Prince Ge­orge’s County.

McClam ex­pressed con­cern about what he saw as a lack of out­reach on be­half of the cur­rent com­mis­sion­ers to res­i­dents on im­por­tant de­ci­sions. “I’ve yet to see a commissioner come out into the com­mu­nity and have town halls with folks to high­light ma­jor key ini­tia­tives that are com­ing up for a de­ci­sion,” McClam said. “There is not a good touch­point be­tween the cur­rent lead­er­ship at the commissioner level and the peo­ple that they serve.”

“I think the county can do bet­ter bring­ing the peo­ple along with them to help in­form the de­ci­sions they’re re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing,” McClam said in con­clu­sion. “Over the last sev­eral years, I haven’t seen that. I think I can bring lead­er­ship to help bridge that di­vide.”

STAFF PHOTO BY PAUL LA­GASSE

Charles County res­i­dent Charles McClam re­cently re­tired af­ter 38 years as a ca­reer civil ser­vant with the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and the Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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