Cumberland Times-News

Local News

June 17, 2014

County office-seekers discuss qualifications

— CUMBERLAND — All four Republican candidates competing for one of the three open seats on the Allegany County Commission shared views on issues and discussed qualifications and experience Monday night at a forum at Allegany College of Maryland.

Jake Shade, the youngest candidate by far at 21 years old, borrowed from the playbook of President Ronald Reagan when asked if “age and experience should be a determining factor in the race?”      

“I’m not going to make my opponents old age a campaign issue,” joked Shade.

“In all seriousness, it’s a valid question. I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I could do a good job and if I wasn’t in it for the right reasons,” he said.

The forum was organized by the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce and WCBC radio.

The candidates exchanged views on a wide range of topics from educational funding, economic development and jobs to the new Allegany High School and the best use of the nearly $800,000 in funding the county receives from the Rocky Gap casino annually.

Incumbents Creade Brodie and Bill Valentine, along with newcomers Mark Widmyer and Shade, debated for two hours with the prospective nominees choosing to use few notes.

Shade is a 2011 graduate of Allegany High School and a 2013 graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in government. He is currently the legislative director for Del. LeRoy Myers Jr.

Brodie, maintenence supervisor for the LaVale Sanitary Commission, gave his response to the questions of experience and qualifications.

“I started my career cutting timber. I was a certified welder and had a class A CDL license. I’ve been a supervisor. I’m in utilities right now. Since Allegany County is responsible for 541 miles of roads, 8,000 water customers, 13,000 sewer customers and two sewage treatment plants, this is the stuff people don’t get to see, this is what we are responsible for daily. I fall back on my life experience every day to help me make decisions. I hope I’m qualified by what I learned over the years,” said Brodie.

Valentine responded to a question on the idea of the county paying for studies for businesses that are interested in locating here.

“There is a time when those studies have to be supplied,” said Valentine,  “We have one hotel (Holiday Inn Express) being constructed now and a strong possibility of another hotel being announced very shortly.”

Valentine said he doesn’t like to do studies too often but now and then they can be used as an enticement for businesses to move into the area.

Widmyer spoke about the removal of the county commissioner’s ex officio seat from the Allegany County Board of Education.

“I still think there is a place for an ex officio officer and I would work towards establishing that communication. But it is a two-way communication,” said Widmyer.

Valentine spoke on the poor relations between the county and the school board.

“I was the last ex officio member. Unfortunately, in the three and a half years I’ve been commissioner, not once did a board of education member attend a county commissioner meeting other that the one day they come asking for their budget funding. I think we need much better communication,” said Valentine.

Shade responded to a question on economic development.

“Since we lost our manufacturing base there has been a cynicism that has come into the county that we are not going to get better and we are on a decline. That has to be dealt with. It will be difficult to change, but we need to deal with that,” said Shade.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

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