The old versus the new

Nov. 7, 2005, midnight | By Alexis Egan | 14 years, 7 months ago

The race for mayor in Takoma Park

Do you feel that the $12 million municipal building, without the promised gym, is a success or a failure? Unless you are a Takoma Park resident, this dilemma means as little to you as the price of tea in China. But to the families residing in Takoma Park, a city so liberal it has been nicknamed "The Berkeley of the East," the gym may be the deciding factor in the Nov. 8 election.

Fed up with the tedious, ever-changing construction plans, many residents are drawn away from the incumbent Kathy Porter but are not quite sure about the qualifications of the new candidate, Seth Grimes. Both potential mayors have a great deal to say and offer to the residents of Takoma Park.

The incumbent

Porter, who was elected mayor in 1997, has helped reduce crime, improve roads and clean up local Sligo Creek, according to her campaign site. Her greatest achievement is yet to come: the highly anticipated, if a little delayed, rebuilt municipal building.

Porter helped raise $5 million for Takoma Park's new community center, which has been under construction since June 2004. According to Porter's campaign brochure, the center will have "arts, dance, computer classes, theater, tutorials, sports and special programs…[and] will be a benefit for the decades to come."

Despite troubles surrounding the proposed gym, Porter maintains that the project will be completed soon. With the recent $750,000 grant from the Washington Adventist Hospital, the city now has enough money for old plans to be redrafted. The completion of the gym is not Porter's only plan if she is reelected.

Although crime in Takoma Park was at a ten-year low in 2004, Porter explains that "more needs to be done to increase police visibility and improve communications with residents," according to her web site. Along with these changes, Porter hopes to create a "win-win" situation with Montgomery College on developmental issues, purchase bulk environment-friendly goods to help citizens save money and promote larger tax rebates. To further Takoma Park's already diverse population - 34 percent African Americans and about 15 percent Latinos according to the 2000 census - Porter seeks to provide tax breaks to low income families to encourage racial variety.

Praised as a "listener and a doer" by County Council President Tom Perez, Porter has a multitude of different goals to focus on. Porter has a progressive, encompassing plan for many of the crucial issues in Takoma Park this election year, according to her campaign brochure. Whether she will have to chance to execute these ideas depends on the success or failure of her opposing candidate, Grimes.

The opposition

Seth Grimes, a Computing Consultant at Alta Plana Corporation, has lived in Takoma Park with his family since 1996. Now after nine years, he has the chance to correct some of Takoma Park's faults by running for mayor. Most of his campaign goals relate to developing infrastructure and furthering safety in the city.

"Residents are most concerned about management competence, crime, development, taxes and Washington Adventist Hospital's planned departure from Takoma Park," Grimes says. Grimes maintains that he will gather a council to discuss the new community center and the options surrounding the proposed gym. While the gym is a major issue this election year, Takoma Park citizens are also concerned about taxes, which have risen over recent years.

Grimes has numerous changes he plans to enact, concerning Takoma Park's high taxes. "Takoma Park residents pay the highest taxes in Montgomery County and the lack of economic development and the slowness pursuing increased tax-duplication payments for the county mean that little relief is in sight," says Grimes. He also hopes to improve the understaffed police department, stop uncontrolled residential development and control new housing locations.

While Grimes says Porter is "dedicated, likeable and works hard," he says she can no longer successfully govern Takoma Park. "For all her experience she has been ineffective in meeting the significant challenges the city faces," Grimes says. He still, however, describes her political campaign as "strong, efficient and responsive."

Approaching election

Since Porter and Grimes have similar agendas, some Takoma Park citizens are split between the two, inquiring about each's ability to govern the changing city. Both candidates have many plans and high hopes for the coming years, but only one will have the chance to complete these visions. Citizens will soon have to analyze each candidate and chose who they believe will do the best job. As Grimes says, "the most important campaign strategy is to try to meet as many people one-on-one as possible...the question comes down to the voters understanding the issues and the leadership."

Alexis Egan. Alexis is a (very) short junior, who is very pleased to be writing for Chips Online with all her friends. Along with writing, her other hobbies are playing soccer, reading about Mount Everest and listening to any Irish music. Her favorite movie is The Princess … More »

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