The end of each year and the beginning of each new one tends to create a sense of introspection in us. We look back at the year (and sometimes farther) and how we’ve done. We recognize the things we could have done better. Hopefully we don’t have any regrets, but if we do, we have the opportunity to make resolutions and work to improve as we see necessary. We also look forward and try to make plans, commitments, improvements and more. The new year brings with it a sense of hope and a bit of motivation simply by flipping a page on the calendar. In accordance with all of that, because I certainly feel it as much as anyone else, I wanted to share a few thoughts about the year just ending and some hopes for the year 2022.
As all of you know, I’m running for the Board of County Commissioners in Calvert County, Maryland. Part of that process and experience requires me to interact quite a bit with politicians, elected representatives, county employees and others. One of the things that seems more commonplace than I’m comfortable with is the sense that Calvert County isn’t the jewel it used to be. I’ve heard too many be critical of our beloved county, comparing it to “how it was” 20, 30 or even 50 years ago. While I miss some of the things I used to enjoy in my youth in this county, times are different; things have changed; the world around us demands we evolve as well. Still, I look around and I see the beauty that is Calvert County. I see the wonderment of our countryside, the hard work in our agriculture and the future in our energy industry. I see hard working people who enjoy the relative quiet of our county. I look forward to working to keep that; to keeping Calvert County the jewel of Maryland.
I saw a lot discussed this year about residential growth, density of population, development rights and more. Much of that conversation, although it doesn’t concentrate on citizens taxes, does impact on citizen taxes. It’s my belief that while planned, well thought out, controlled growth is ultimately good for the county, it shouldn’t come on the back of the hardworking men and women who reside in our county. Most especially in these times of record rates of inflation, it behooves us to do all we can to limit any increase in cost we levy on the citizens we serve.
Through the year I heard some people comment, expressing the perception that the county government and/or some county employees seem more focused on revenue growth than service to the citizens. While it’s an unavoidable reality that growing costs mandate growth in county revenue, that should never be at the expense of service or courtesy to our citizens. The county government exists to SERVE the citizens; not live off their hard work. It’s probably a matter of semantics, but every county employee and elected representative interaction with any citizen should be undertaken with a clear focus on service to the citizen.
In 2021 we saw an intolerable situation that resulted in the School Bus Driver strike. I took a stand with those bus drivers, against the advice of many who currently serve in various elected offices. Given the changes that occurred to bring that strike to an end, I believe my outlook on standing with the bus drivers was proven the correct position to take. To me, it was simply about doing the right thing. And isn’t that how simple serving should be? Do the right thing.
Through this year I participated in plenty of events supporting various organizations and charities. There are two I’d like to call particular attention to and encourage everyone to continue to support:
The American Legion – With four locations in Calvert County, the American Legion serves, and is comprised primarily of, the veterans who have sacrificed so much as they served our great nation. I am proud and honored to support the American Legion and would encourage every citizen to do so. We can’t thank our veterans enough and anything you do, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant, makes a different. Make that difference. Say thank you through your actions.
Calvert County Parks and Recreation – Did you know there are 13 major dedicated parks in our county? That is far from the count of actual parks and facilities manned and maintained by Calvert County Parks and Recreation. These parks are pristine examples of the beauty our county has to share and many of them are educational in orientation. The history of our county is unique and through our parks and recreation we can help others learn what makes this county so special. I encourage you to not only support our parks but to appreciate the employees and make visits to any (or all) of the parks part of your plan for 2022.
Now… having that “look back” at 2021 out of the way, I’d like to “look forward” to 2022 and share some concerns that I have… that I think we should all share concern about.
Every citizen in the county, whether you have school aged children, grandchildren, or even just neighbor children, needs to be concerned about the policies and curriculums being put forth by the Board of Education. One of the things that makes Calvert County so special is the value system that has evolved here over the centuries. Yes, I said centuries: from being an early establishment in a new country to becoming a farming community to being a hub for energy development and even (at one time) the home for warship development, this county has covered a lot of ground. We’ve grown with a sense of community and values that recognized equality across the board. In many of today’s educational institutions outside our county, those values are either being undermined or destroyed in favor of policies that espouse things other than equality. The value of our educational system has to be preserved so that a fair and complete education is available for each child.
We need to pay attention to what’s going on nationally, at the state level and in our home county regarding law enforcement. The men and women who wear the star (or badge) in Calvert County have dedicated themselves to a life of service in a profession that is already one of the most unforgiving to be found in any work environment. They work hard and do their absolute best and are held to a high standard. We need to recognize that and we need to support them, appreciate them and express that to them. We need to recognize our elected Sheriff and his leadership and hold him to the standard of fairly upholding the rule of law. That is, after all, what he’s elected for.
Moving into 2022 we still see plenty of news about COVID-19 and the challenges faced in controlling, detecting, treating and mitigating it. At the center of that fight are the hard working men and women of our healthcare services from the doctors and nurses in the hospital to those manning the urgent care centers to the pharmacists in our drug stores. Many of them worked without much appreciation through the worst of the original outbreak and some are being treated less fairly almost two years later due to a government mandate that is being legally fought in 25 states and many places of employment. We need to remember that the healthcare workers are not “the system.” They are the ones tasked with keeping the rest of us alive and healthy and they often sacrifice a great deal to accomplish that. We should never forget that. We should appreciate them and show that appreciation through our support.
Finally, we need to guard against living in unsubstantiated fear. Too many media outlets and media employees “report” in a hyper-sensationalized fashion using inflammatory language. Why? Because it helps their ratings and therefore their ad revenues. We need to keep that in mind and stay level-headed. I encourage you not to buy into the hysteria. Take appropriate precautions. Stay informed. Practice socially responsible behaviors. But don’t live your life in fear simply because you saw an article or heard a talking head on television. Those people get paid for what they do. You don’t get paid to live in fear and, in fact, doing so can impact your ability to function productively day to day. We are Americans. We are not descended from fearful folk. Hold your head up and live proud and healthy.
In 2022, I hope we see health, success and prosperity for all citizens of Calvert County (and everywhere else for that matter). If we pay attention and stay committed to the beauty that is Calvert County, it’s my belief that we can make 2022 a banner year.