Cumberland Times-News

February 22, 2010

Striplin in running for county commission

School board vice president’s term expires on Dec. 31

Kevin Spradlin

CUMBERLAND — Tom Striplin filed as the fourth candidate — and first Democrat — vying for a seat on the Allegany County Board of Commissioners this fall.

He joins Republican candidates Creade Brodie Jr. of Frostburg; Thomas “Dave” McNemar Jr. of Cumberland; and Bill Valentine of Little Orleans, in what is expected to be a crowded race for the three available seats.

Striplin, 49, of Mount Savage, serves as vice president on the Allegany County Board of Education. His term expires Dec. 31. Striplin, who filed with the Allegany County Board of Elections on Friday, said he believes Allegany County and its residents could benefit from new leadership.

New leadership, Striplin said, and “new individuals being in the commissioner position, taking a look at things from a different perspective. I believe I have the leadership skills to help benefit Allegany County in that respect.”

He said public safety issues are center stage right now — in particular the controversial transfer of road patrol duties from the sheriff’s office to the Bureau of Police. On that issue, his stance is clear.

“I’ve put a lot of thought into that,” Striplin said. “If I’m elected, I really want to hear what the people have to say on this issue. It’s important to have a true sense on what people want. I would push for a referendum through the state delegation” and let voters have their say at the ballot box.

Striplin is director of clinical education and associate professor for the Respiratory Care Program at Allegany College of Maryland, where he has taught for nearly 20 years. The part-time martial arts instructor said he understands the difference between a direct democracy, in which every issue goes before the voters, and having elected officials represent their constituents.

However, in major issues such as the transfer of road patrol duties in an office headed by an elected sheriff, the people “should have the ability to decide how they want their taxpayer dollars spent.”

“I think it’s important,” Striplin said, “when you make a major change ... especially since the sheriff is an elected position, you really want to engage the community.”

Striplin said he’d also push for a comprehensive analysis of the split, which occurred in July 2008, and compile a single report “that would include financial information from both the Bureau of Police and the sheriff’s office.” Representatives from both agencies would have a chance to submit information to such a report, Striplin said.

In addition to public safety, Striplin said economic development and job creation are top priorities for his campaign.

Striplin said he’s keen on “improving access of information to the public” and wants to move the county commissioners’ weekly public meetings to evening meeting times “so it’s more accessible.”

Striplin has established a Web site, www.tomstriplin.com, to allow voters to see his positions on a variety of issues.

Candidates have until 9 p.m. July 6 to file for local or statewide office.

The primary election is Sept. 14. Early voting is scheduled from Sept. 3 to 9. For the Nov. 2 general election, early voting begins Oct. 22 and ends Oct. 28.

Contact Kevin Spradlin at kspradlin@times-news.com.