Business attraction is main issue in Indian Head election

Citizens will select mayor, council May 5

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cast your votes

The general election in Indian Head will be from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. May 5 at the Village Green Pavilion at 100 Walter Thomas Road. The deadline for absentee ballot requests is 4:30 p.m. April 28. The ballots must be received at the Indian Head Town Hall by 8 p.m. May 5. The three candidates who receive the most votes will be elected. The candidate with the most votes will be mayor. Call Awilda Hernandez at 301-743-5511. The candidates; Dennis Scheessele incumbent mayor, Margie Posey incumbent councilwoman , Randy Albright incumbent councilman, Ed Rice, Linsey Bowie, Gerald Short

Launching Indian Head back on the map as a viable place to locate a business and enjoy recreational activities is the top goal of the six candidates who are vying for the mayoral and town council seats during next month's election.

Indian Head's general election is set from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 5 at the Village Green Pavilion in Indian Head. The candidates running for the mayoral and council seats are incumbents Mayor Dennis Scheessele, Vice Mayor Randy Albright and Councilwoman Margie Posey.

Ed Rice, a former mayor and vice mayor, and newcomers, Linsey Bowie and Gerald Short, are also vying for the mayoral and council seats.

Indian Head elected officials serve two years and the three candidates who receive the most votes will be elected. The candidate with the most votes will be mayor.

Scheessele, 63, is the current mayor and also served as mayor from 1991 to1995. He has served on the town council since 1985 and was a planning commission member for 13 years before being elected to the council.

A retired structural engineer, Scheessele and his wife, Elaine, have lived in Indian Head for 38 years.

Scheessele said he wants to continue to work with the council to devise strategies to attract new businesses to town. The council recently established an economic development commission whose 10 members will work with the Charles County Department of Economic Development to lure businesses to town, he said.

"We need to get more commercial development, but it's going very slowly, especially now with the economic downturn," he said. "People aren't ready to consider any new operations right now."

The town's EDC will recommend to the council what types of businesses should be pursued to locate in town, Scheessele said.

"The commission will develop a list of businesses that the members want in town and the strategies to attract those businesses and then work with the county's department of economic development to implement those objectives," he said.

Scheessele said that the town needs to continue to work with the Indian Head Defense Alliance to keep the Naval Support Facility in Indian Head a viable center of operation.

"The base is more solid than it has been in the past, but we're still working with the alliance to maintain and enhance the viability of the base," he said.

Elected officials must keep a sharp eye on the economy to ensure that Indian Head remains in the black during the recession, Scheessele said.

"We're doing fairly well," he said. "The main impact of the recession is new development in town has slowed down."

Scheessele is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Maryland Mayors' Association, the Maryland Municipal League and the Southern Maryland Municipal Association.

Albright, 45, is the vice mayor of Indian Head. A maintenance manager with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for 27 years, Albright and his wife, Cynthia, have two children.

Albright, who has lived in town for five years, was elected to the council two years ago. The Virginia native served on the town's planning commission for three years before being elected to the council.

Albright said he would like to see more small businesses open up in town.

"I absolutely fell in love with Indian Head when I first moved here," he said. "It has a small-town atmosphere. I would like to see the return of prosperity in town, but the town has been hit hard since the economic downturn. We've lost too many of our smaller businesses. The county is directing all of the growth to Waldorf and La Plata. The county commissioners forget about Indian Head. I would like to work with the commissioners and make them realize that Indian Head is still a viable part of the county."

Charles County commissioners' President F. Wayne Cooper (D) said that the county has lent a helping hand whenever the town's elected officials have asked for assistance. He added that the county does not direct growth to Indian Head or La Plata because the towns have their own economic development efforts that they pursue.

"I don't agree with Mr. Albright's statement at all," he said. "We keep Indian Head in mind with everything that we do."

The council's effort to have a grocery store open up in town has so far failed, Albright said.

"I don't think that it's going to happen because of the amount of land that would be required," he said. "We're five minutes away from Food Lion and Safeway in Bryans Road. A store would be putting itself in a death trap if it would locate here. It's just not feasible."

Instead, Albright said that a small establishment that offers unique products would be better suited to the town.

Albright is a member of the Maryland Municipal League and is currently working toward an Academy of Excellence in Government certificate from the organization.

Posey, 74, has served on the town council since 1991. A retired elementary school teacher who taught for more than 40 years in the Prince George's and Charles County school systems, she is active in a number of town and civic organizations.

Posey and her husband, Bertram, have four children and six grandchildren and have lived in Indian Head for 52 years.

Posey said she enjoys serving as a councilwoman and would like to continue the role.

"I'm running again because I like the things that we're doing," she said. "We've completed a lot of activities and I would like to see us do more."

Posey said the town has finished building a new wastewater treatment plant, completed improvements to Mattawoman Park and is working to complete a boardwalk that runs along the Potomac River shoreline.

Posey said she is still hopeful that the council will be able to convince a grocery store chain to open up in town.

"We still need a grocery store, and we're trying everything possible to get one," she said.

Posey said she would like to move forward with changing the name of the Woodland Village Park to the Francis "Kelly" Simmons Park because Simmons has worked with the town for many years to get improvements done to the community.

"He's done a wonderful job; the park should be changed to his name," she said.

More businesses need to set up shop in town, Posey said.

"We need to bring more businesses to town and help businesses that are already here to stay," she said.

Posey would also like to work with the council to create some activities for teens who live in Indian Head, such as building an indoor basketball court.

Posey is a member of the General Federation of Charles County Women's Club, the Indian Head Activities Committee, Western Charles County Business Association, the Maryland Municipal League, the Pomonkey and Bowie alumni associations, Western Charles County Community Association, Charles County Retired Teachers Association and Maryland Retired School Personnel Association.

She also participates in an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

"It doesn't matter what position I get on the council," she said. "I'm not a quitter. I'm a team builder, and I would like to be re-elected."

Rice, 72, is a retired federal employee who has lived in Indian Head for 48 years. The Pennsylvania native served on the town council from 1999 to 2007. He served six years as vice mayor and two years as mayor.

Rice resigned the post in 2007, but he said that he is ready to take on the challenge of an elected office again.

"We need someone on the council who is willing to push for growth," he said. "We need to be ready when the economy improves to take advantage of it."

The town needs to use the lull in the economy to pursue more economic development opportunities, Rice said.

"Things have slowed down a bit, and we need to take advantage of it," he said. "The town needs to launch its economic development efforts. The council has reinstated an economic development commission. That's a start."

The council needs to get small businesses to locate in town, Rice said, adding that a Family Dollar store is set to open and there's interest in trying to lure a Rita's Italian Ice shop to open in Indian Head.

"That's the kind of thing that the economic development commission has got to do," he said. "The commission needs to seek out developers who concentrate on development in small communities who will bring small businesses to town."

Rice said he is also interested in developing more water activities in town.

"Somehow we've got to take advantage of that," he said. "There's a lot of potential here to build a tourist trade."

Rice said town residents need to get more involved in issues that crop up in Indian Head.

"I'm trying to get citizens more involved in government," he said. "I meet a lot of people and if I ask if they would be interested in getting involved they say that they don't feel the need to do it right now."

Rice and his wife, Helen, have four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Rice serves as the president of the Western Charles/Indian Head National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees and has served as a chief election judge for Precinct 7-2 for 10 years.

Rice serves on the board of directors of the Cooperative Ministry of Aging and is a member of the town's planning commission. He has also serves as route coordinator for the Meals on Wheels program in the Bryans Road and Indian Head areas.

Bowie, 33, is an Indian Head native who works at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. She and her husband, George, live in town with their two children.

Bowie said she is running for a council seat because she would like to be a part of shaping Indian Head's future.

"I've lived here my whole life; I never thought of living anywhere else," she said. "I figured that if I'm going to stay here I should get involved for my children's sake."

Bowie said she wants to help launch more economic development opportunities in town.

"I hear the older generation say that Indian Head is dying, but I don't see it that way," she said. "There's a lot of potential out there."

Residents and elected officials have to help the town become more vibrant, Bowie said.

"With the economic downturn the government isn't going to be able to bail us out; it's up to the community to do that," she said.

It's very important to keep the Naval Support Facility in Indian Head open, Bowie said.

"The base just made it through the last BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure]," she said. "If the base closes that might be the final nail in the coffin for Indian Head."

Bowie said she would like to help out the less fortunate in the town.

"We need more community involvement to stock food pantries and make sure that we help each other get through this," she said, adding that she hopes to win a council seat.

"I've always been fascinated by politics; it's interesting," she said.

Short, 24, owns Gerry's Detailing and Lawn Care in Indian Head. A town native, Short said he would like to work with the council to revise the way water bills are sent out to customers.

"I would like to see the water bills mailed to residents once a month," he said. "A lot of residents say that they can't pay their quarterly bills because they're so high."

Short said he would also like to bring more businesses into town and step up police patrols.

"We need more jobs and businesses in town," he said. "I would also like to have more police patrolling the town. We've had a lot of theft and break-ins recently."

Short said he is eager to serve on the council.

"I can make a pretty big difference in Indian Head and help people out with the economy the way it is now," he said. "I think that I would be the perfect man for the job."