CUMBERLAND — With four Republican candidates seeking the three available seats on the Allegany County Commission, one of the four will be eliminated in the June 24 primary election. The race features two incumbents, Creade Brodie Jr. and Bill Valentine. Orphan’s Court Judge Mark Widmyer and legislative director Jake Shade are also in the race for the three spots available for the general election.
The four candidates agree on many issues, but differ on approach, with Shade criticizing the status quo and offering alternatives, especially in the area of economic development.
“I don’t believe the status quo is working; we need to overhaul the county’s economic development. We need to have a 10-year plan that includes benchmarks and what kind of companies we want to attract. It means working with businesses and students through an internship program as well as the new Allegany College of Maryland manufacturing program to create a pipeline so that students are trained for careers, and it means working with the state to compete for the tens of millions of dollars in existing tax credits given to industries like biotech and cybersecurity,” said Shade.
The two incumbent commissioners have a different point of view.
“Economic strategy has tobe in a constant state of evolving,” said Valentine. “I feel our department has many successes. Our industrial/business parks have no unoccupied county-owned buildings — the businesses range from industrial to advanced light manufacturing, to IT (information technology)/ research, to info-tech. These businesses employ over 3,800 people. We are preparing to construct a 40,000-square-foot shell building and hope to construct an incubator IT office complex. We are presently seeing great interest from the hospitality industry.”
Many of the county’s problems are created by the state, Valentine said.
“We absolutely need to see a growth in our economy. To accomplish this we need to work with the state to loosen regulations that are designed to limit growth. Many counties are suffering from overgrowth. Our problem has been negative growth, but the state enforces ‘one size fits all’ regulations. The state is also viewed as not friendly to business,” Valentine said.