Should county government incentivize growth in the county through zoning and, if so, what types of growth (residential, commercial, high density, etc.) should the county focus on and why? What steps should the county take to comply with state-mandated planning requirements?
Gordon: Zoning in Carroll should respect the rural and farming character of the County while allowing for business and commercial uses where appropriate. Zoning should not be used as a tool for the government to incentivize growth, but instead a means to have the welfare, health, and safety of its residents in its best interest. Zoning should encompass a healthy mix of business/commercial/residential uses while keeping taxes low for Carroll families. Local and proper zoning, not state-mandated planning will have a positive impact on the county and its residents.
What is your vision/strategy for economic development in the county. What incentives do you think are appropriate to lure businesses/employers to Carroll?
Gordon: A prosperous economic environment is required and this allows us to use the positive opportunities available to the county such as economic innovation and proper planning. We must create opportunities for our main streets and local businesses. The main street area in any community is the heart of any town and we must work with the municipalities to strengthen them. We need to utilize our area for corporations and manufacturing opportunities with growth opportunities in tourism. This will not only create a stronger economic base, but also potentially increase a younger demographic into the counties population.
Approximately 47 percent of the county’s proposed fiscal 2019 budget goes toward Carroll County Public Schools. Do you believe this number is appropriate, too low or too high? Should there be a set percentage of the budget dedicated to public education each year?
Gordon: The Carroll County Board of Education (BOE) must carry the burden to find a solution for our public school system. Properly sized schools and redistricting will allow cost-saving flexibility in the budget to make teacher pay more competitive while also providing students with additional opportunities. Once evaluated, the Commissioners will evaluate the budget and discuss the county priorities and what will benefit the county.
Do you believe existing revenue sources are sufficient to effectively cover necessary expenditures in Carroll County? Currently a supermajority (4-1 vote) is required to raise taxes. Do you think that is appropriate or should only a simple majority (3-2 vote) be required?
Gordon: The Commissioners have a due diligence to the taxpayers of Carroll County to protect their hard-earned money. The supermajority ensures the decision to raise taxes is carefully considered and after evaluation of the county budget. The commissioners should be in agreement and take a hard look prior to taking money away from the working families who live in Carroll County.
Do you support or oppose a move from the commissioner form of government to charter government?
Gordon: The structure of charter government could be beneficial to both the county and the taxpayer if it is properly implemented. Ultimately, such a decision must be decided by the voters by referendum at the polls.
Enabling legislation in the Maryland General Assembly gives county government authority over fire and emergency services. What do you see as the best path forward for emergency services in Carroll County?
Gordon: The volunteer model of emergency services has benefitted the county and its taxpayers for many years. As the county grows, additional constraints will be placed upon emergency services. Enabling legislation will encourage the dialogue of creating a hybrid model of volunteer/paid and will also encourage younger generations to serve their community via incentives and in good faith, while also supporting their families.
What do you believe county government’s role should be in combating the opioid epidemic?
Gordon: The opoid epidemic is one of the most important issues affecting our County today. We need to be educated and equipped with the applicable resources in order to combat and overcome the presence of addiction in our neighborhoods. The county government must coincide its efforts with officials and law enforcement on a Federal, State, and municpal level. We should also consider using resources such as religious groups who can be seen assisting in other areas of the country currently. We must also utilize education programs, drug court and other resources that are available.