By Sally Voth -- email@example.com
STRASBURG -- The three candidates vying for a Town Council seat in Tuesday's special election all say Strasburg needs to attract more businesses to town.
Steve Nicholson and Edith Wallace have both served on the panel before, while John "Red" Hall Jr. is a political newcomer.
They are competing to serve out the remainder of former Town Councilman Michael Whittle's term, which expires in June 2014. Whittle stepped down from the council last fall to take a job in California, and Carlyle Swafford was appointed to the seat until the Nov. 8 special election.
Wallace, 62, served on the panel from 1996 to 2008. She said she decided to retire from public office after the death of her husband in 2007. She spent three years taking care of him.
"I just couldn't devote my time like I wanted to because I had to take care of him," Wallace said Tuesday. "Now I'm ready to get back into it again because I enjoyed it."
Among the issues the town is facing are the wastewater treatment plant and water plant projects, Wallace said, and attracting businesses.
"We need business here in town," she said. "I would like to see the town of Strasburg get vital again, get some business in there ... and don't turn down anybody who wants to bring business into Strasburg."
Wallace, who is retired from the Department of Social Services, was referring to a Strasburg Planning Commission meeting during which some people felt a man proposing to bring a Popeye's-Papa John's to town was treated poorly.
"You know, that man wanted to build a Popeye's here, but from what I can understand, a couple of the council people did not treat him right," Wallace said. "That's not right. That would've brought some jobs here in town, and we need that."
She also feels the recently passed historic district ordinance is too intrusive.
"We don't need a dictatorship," Wallace said. "If you want to paint purple on the inside, that's your business. That shouldn't be the town's business."
Nicholson, 53, was on the Town Council during the same years as Wallace. He, too, wants to lure more businesses to town.
"I think we need to attract business," he said. "I'm not sure if people on there are looking to do that. We need business. We need commercial and industrial [development]."
Another area of concern is water and sewer, something Nicholson, who works for the Frederick County Sanitation Authority, has "had plenty of experience with." He's also concerned about a proposed property maintenance code.
"I'm not sure about some of the ordinances they've got going now for property ordinances," Nicholson said. "I think some of them are a little bit stepping over the line."
He said his experience would be an asset.
"I have a history of getting things done," Nicholson said. "I have a history of not going with the status quo."
Hall, 67, said his experience as a working man and a businessman will stand him in good stead if elected.
"I've worked all my life, so I understand the working people," the retired General Electric employee said. "I've also been in business most all my life, and we've been in the rental business in Strasburg for the last 30-plus years. So, I know a little bit of how much people make and how much money is available to be spent by individuals."
Hall is running for election because he wants to keep town spending under control, "but I'm still for growth and things like that and business."
He, too, was concerned about the historic district ordinance -- which was dramatically watered down before its passage because of outcry from residents, including Hall.
"I very much was concerned about that because I bought a house in the historical [district], and they're making it difficult for people to take care of their property, and the cost will be staggering if it gets out of hand," Hall said. "I also live in an older house, so I do know what it costs to live in these older homes.
"Right now, I think the biggest [issue facing Strasburg] is the lack of building, the slow economy. And, things are tough everywhere, not just Strasburg. And tough times is [when] tough decisions are made. I only hope I can help, not hurt."