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?
Rothstein: Zoning should never be used as a tool for government to direct or “incentivize ” growth. Zoning is most effective when done at the local level by those closest to the residents impacted. Citizen input must be encouraged and respected. Zoning in Carroll County should respect the rural and farming character of the County while allowing for business and commercial uses where appropriate. The best solution toward success is to encourage a healthy mix of business/commercial and residential uses by keeping taxes low and burdensome regulations to a minimum. Growth in Carroll County must focus on smart development in areas where it makes sense and use caution to prevent high-density situations. A prime example of good development practices are sites like the Warfield complex which allows us to partner with the region and state for mutually beneficial growth opportunities. The key to success is ensuring there is a vision and long-term strategy that is predictable and transparent to our citizens.
What is your vision/strategy for economic development in the county. What incentives do you think are appropriate to lure businesses/employers to Carroll?
Rothstein: Our vision/strategy for economic development should be to grow a business/commercial tax base to ease the burden on homeowners. We can foster the type of industry that is a natural fit for Carroll while still supporting agricultural preservation and safeguarding our rural charm. Growth that pairs infrastructure and development while maintaining public support for keeping Carroll County the best place to live, work and raise a family is key. We must be proactive and encourage the types of businesses, retailers and entertainment options that citizens want to come here. Strong leadership coupled with transparency and open communication, building strong County-to-State and government-to-business collaboration, and taking ‘real executable actions’ are the criticalities to success. Partnerships are key to meeting the desired end state. Keep in mind that business growth does not mean population growth! I intend to use my experience coupled with current involvement in our community boards / commissions, AND most of all, listening to the community to develop the best courses of action. This approach will ensure a community that promotes growth while maintaining great cultural integrity. We ARE NOT and WILL NOT be an extension or outgrowth of neighboring jurisdictions.
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?
Rothstein: First and foremost, there is nothing more important than our children. Ensuring a safe and secure environment for them to learn in is paramount. The budget for our schools goes well beyond that 47 percent. Having a collaborative AND comprehensive budget is a must that involves the schools and other agencies that have a role in meeting the above requirements. Priorities evolve over time and having the ability to appropriately adjust is a must. The focus for the budget process must be requirements based and not on the percentages. Specifically, as the requirements are thought through and developed by the Board of Education through their due diligence it is then presented to the Board of Commissioners for consideration and support. This approach allows for the Board of Commissioners to support appropriately by having candid and open discussions of priorities, including most of all - student achievement.
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?
Rothstein: We can always use more revenue sources; however, that burden must not be placed solely on the individual. As stated above regarding economic development, Carroll County has a great opportunity to bring in businesses that will encourage a strong educated workforce to stay in place along with being the right fit for our community. These efforts will provide additional revenue sources for our County. The supermajority to raise taxes is one of the best ideas ever implemented in Carroll County. As stewards of public funds, Commissioners must agree before raiding the wallets and pocketbooks of hard-working families in Carroll County. It is the job of the Commissioners to make tough choices and decisions when crafting a budget and changes to this process should never be a reactionary approach.
Do you support or oppose a move from the commissioner form of government to charter government?
Rothstein: I am running for Commissioner representing District 5 in Carroll County; therefore, I support our current form of government. Charter government can work if done properly and does not increase costs to taxpayers when correctly implemented. We have seen charter government work successfully in surrounding jurisdictions. I respect that approach. In Carroll County, it is ultimately up to the voters to decide if and when it is time to move towards charter government; however, I do not believe that time is now.
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?
Rothstein: Enabling legislation is a good first step in the discussion of where emergency services are headed in Carroll County. In order to retain our deputies we must find the financial resources to pay them a competitive salary and benefits as well as providing necessary equipment and training. Supporting CCVESA and individual fire companies is critical. Crafting a hybrid volunteer/paid model via dialogue with current volunteer fire companies is an excellent way to create a bridge to future EMS needs in Carroll County without overburdening taxpayers. Taking the appropriate steps for County oversight will allow better resourcing in the budget to support law enforcement, fire and EMS.
What do you believe county government’s role should be in combating the opioid epidemic?
Rothstein: It is unacceptable that we still have an opioid and drug problem in our community. County government must work in conjunction with state, federal, municipal officials and law enforcement to end this crisis. The one thing we cannot do is put our collective heads in the sand and say more money will fix things. It needs all of us looking out for each other, educating ourselves and our families to provide a holistic solution. Funerals of twenty-something Carroll residents from overdoses are far too frequent and are totally unacceptable. As Commissioner, I will fight hard to combat the scourge of opioid addiction.