News & Press Releases
Submitted By: Steve Wollett
Flintstone - 5:52 pm
My name is Steve Wollett and I am running for Allegany County Commissioner.
I am a lifelong Maryland native, and a current resident of Flintstone. I am a father, grandfather, and an avid hunter and gun owner. I have always been a community advocate and servant. In my youth, I enlisted and served my country by joining the Air Force; I am a veteran of the Vietnam War. Following my time in the military, I worked in the electrical industry, among other work, and became a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). I have received my education at Dundalk Community College and the National Labor College. I know the importance of high wage jobs and was an assistant business manager and union organizer. Today, I am retired and want to dedicate my time as YOUR advocate to establish the much-needed high wage jobs needed in Allegany County.
I will audit the Department of Economic and Community Development to determine if the taxpayer dollars that they are giving away are resulting in a good return. Are they getting us the best value for our money? I will redirect their focus into getting major companies with high paying jobs and benefits rather than low wage, part time, fast food and other service level jobs. The current commissioners have hired consultants to bring in more low wage and tourism jobs; that's their vision for economic development. Tourism plays a key role, but it’s not enough on its own to support the local economy. Allegany County has interstate highways, an airport, and railroad lines, which makes us a prime location for industry. We are a transportation hub and we should take advantage of that. We have two colleges which can support the educational needs of employers and their employees. We will take advantage of this and our proximity to technology in DC and surrounding areas in Maryland. I will work with our Congressional Representatives to get federal jobs transferred to this area and work with our State Delegates and Senators to have the MARC train extended to Cumberland. I will encourage commercial flights in and out of Cumberland airport. In addition for local transit, I will also work to expand bus routes and times to better connect the outlying parts of the county to jobs, medical services, and commerce.
Right now, Allegany County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, many residents are dependent on the Earned Income Tax Credit to make ends meet. Approximately 55% of the workforce works outside of the county. With the present state of low paying and part time jobs, this is only going to get worse, which will eventually hurt the county tax base. Students graduating from high school and college are moving out of the county to find employment. With higher paying jobs we will retain residents and increase the tax base.
Beyond simply encouraging the use of green technologies, the county needs to explore the manufacturing of solar panels. I will promote rooftop solar, as opposed to consuming green space, commercial lots, and farmland. All suitable county government buildings will have rooftop solar.
I would like the county to consider setting up a mandatory pension or 401 type plan for workers, both full and part time, in the county without a pension. This would be funded by contributions from the employees and employers and would ensure financial stability for future retirees.
We need to address the drug epidemic with more resources for education and treatment. We should be open to various types of treatment and not limit ourselves. This would benefit the community by cutting crime and tax dollars spent on emergency services. We must evaluate the current prevention and treatment programs to determine the specific direction we need to move towards.
I will move public hearings from the working hours to the evening, to get a better representation of the public. All meetings should be announced ahead of time and open to the public. I would encourage local communities to develop community associations to improve communications and build stronger relationships within their communities, and address local concerns to their elected representative. I will make sure that the community has access to me. I will be available and transparent in all my dealings. I believe it is unethical for elected officials to receive money from companies who have contracts or conduct business with the county, as the current commissioners are doing. I fully support the adoption of term limits; two consecutive terms with ten years out of office following is sufficient.
I really hope to change the downward economic spiral of this county and bring about a brighter future.