CUMBERLAND, Md. — Joseph P. George, retired CBIZ Insurance executive, was selected Thursday to replace Seth Bernard on the Cumberland City Council, officials said in a news release.
George was picked from a list of 10 candidates who submitted letters of interest and resumes for the position. He will fill the remaining term of Seth Bernard, who stepped down due to mounting career and family responsibilities.
The appointment is expected to be finalized by vote of the council during a Tuesday meeting. George would be sworn in at that time.
“We are very pleased to announce that Joe George has accepted Council’s nomination to the open council seat,” Mayor Ray Morriss said in the release. “We believe that Joe will bring a breadth of experience and quality leadership with him from his work experience and vast amount of community involvement that will greatly benefit the city, and we look forward to welcoming him to our team.”
A Cumberland native, George is a 1972 graduate of Bishop Walsh High School. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a Master of Business Administration from Frostburg State University.
With a long career in the insurance field, George was the president of the select services division of CBIZ and retired in 2016 after 28 years with the company.
George said Thursday he hopes to increase efforts to attract millennials to the city who can telework from home.
“My biggest concern is the work force in the area,” he said. “We need to somehow attract a younger workforce and attract the millennials back to the area. If we can get young folks that can telecommute that can move back to the area and enjoy all the area has to offer — the outdoors and cultural activities and the low cost of housing and not have the commuting issues of the big cities — I think that would benefit us all. We need to create some housing and some incentives.
“I truly believe the city of Cumberland will have a renaissance at some point in the future,” he said. “But I think it is coming and we need to build toward that.”
George has served on numerous boards, including the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Friends Aware, Lions Manor Nursing Home, Cumberland Kiwanis Club and the Cumberland Country Club.
“I’m sure they had some excellent choices who applied, so I am honored to be picked,” he said. “I always thought I would like to give back to the community, but life got in the way. But when I retired, then I felt like I had the opportunity and time to try to help make a difference. When this opportunity came up, I thought why not put my name in the ring.”
George said there “are a lot of good things going on in the city.” He supports the Cumberland Gateway commercial center planned for Maryland Avenue and the reinstallation of Baltimore Street through the downtown pedestrian mall.
“I believe (the Baltimore Street project) will have a positive impact,” he said. “The upgraded broadband is helpful. One of the challenges we have is certainly that retail is a thing of the past. ... So many do our shopping online, so it will be a challenge to attract those other than boutique-type operations on the first floors and then using the upper floors hopefully to attract millennials with upscale apartments.”
George also said he hopes to see the three bridges that are currently closed, or partially closed, on the West Side rebuilt and opened as soon as possible.