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Camaioni Vies For Leonardtown Mayor
Leonardtown, MD - 4/26/2012
By Dick Myers
Henry Camaioni, 51, is one of three candidates for Mayor of Leonardtown to replace J. Harry “Chip” Norris, who decided not to seek re-election. He has lived in St. Mary’s County most of his life, grew up in Dameron and went to school at St. Michael’s in Ridge and Great Mills High School. He has taken courses at the College of Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia Community College support his building contracting business. He is currently a real-estate agent and is licensed through Realty Executives. He met his while she was going to college at American University. She is from Ridge and also attended St. Michael’s. They have three children.
The Bay Net (TBN): Why are you running for mayor?
Camaioni: I talked to some people and there was a concern that they just didn’t feel they wanted to vote for either one of my opponents. And they were just going to do a write-in candidate. I looked at what they were saying about my opponents and I decided that maybe I should run for mayor because they needed to have a better choice.
TBN: What is your concern about the other opponents?
Camaioni: Well, when you take a closer look at the situation, you have Mr. Burris who is an insurance agent in town. With his advertisements he has been actually putting his insurance company for his candidacy to stop in to his office. When you consider that, the insurance man comes up and knocks on your door and wants to sell you insurance and are you going to turn him away when he is the mayor. It just seems like there is a perception there that this is not quite as ethical as it could be. I also have to wonder is the town only going to be using Mr. Burris as their insurance person. The idea that he wants to be the mayor and the person who is selling you anything I think it creates a perception that it is not good for Leonardtown.
As far as Mr. Mattingly the concern for his campaign is we already have one Mattingly on the town council and we have two Mattinglys running, one for a council seat and one for mayor. If they get enough support and both of them win we’ll have three Mattinglys in local town government. That in itself creates a perception that they would have too much power in town. Also, what is the perception from people who aren’t in town? I don’t want Leonardtown to become the joke of the state that it’s just run by a family. I believe it not only gives too much power to Mr. Mattingly having three Mattinglys on the government but also I don’t think that provides a very good impression either.
TBN: Tell us about your concerns about the whole process involving the challenge to your residency?
Camaioni: The election judge reviewed everything and decided in my favor. In my opinion it was just political and probably for the reasons that I just stated. If I am the logical choice for mayor then the best way to beat me is to try and kick me out of the race or create so much questions in peoples’ minds that maybe they will vote for the other candidates. In my opinion I am the logical choice.
TBN: In your opinion what are the pressing issues facing town?
Camaioni: Over the next couple of years it would be in my opinion to decide in what direction some of the development goes in and also some of the issues of providing services for the town, including the idea of what’s going to be done with the library. I think one of the big concerns that needs to be addressed is the fact that we keep building schools because we have more children but we are not proving places for these kids to go when they are not in school. We need to address the idea of a library but we also need to address the idea of a community center and activity for our children. Take Tudor Hall Farm, for that project they wanted to build a golf course. The county already has a golf course that is losing money every year. Why would we even think about a golf course? Also Breton Bay is right up the street. So are we going to try to compete with Breton Bay and hurt their business and hurt that neighborhood? For some reason they are not thinking about the bigger picture.
TBN: So what is your vision for that piece of property?
Camaioni: You know, I do have ideas about what I would like to be able to do there and they are in line with some of the things I have heard from the county. But at the same time I don’t think it should just be my idea of what I want. I want to put out a few ideas and let the public, the citizens of Leonardtown, really make the decision on that. We shouldn’t have a government that tries to dictate. You know we have things that are before the Supreme Court right now because of government trying to dictate to people what they are going to have to do. You need to let the people have some choice in this matter.
TBN: One of the county commissioners in voting to renovate the library said it was the inability of the town and the citizens to get together on what should be done for a new library. Do you agree with that? Are you in favor of a new library?
Camaioni: I don’t think we have the funding now to do too much about the library. This does not mean we can’t make plans to do what we need to do. At the same time the idea that nobody has gotten the idea of what the town wants is the situation where you have certain people who are active in the town and those leaders are working at different ends. At the same time the idea we can’t communicate with the other town members, the town is so small, there are not that many people in town that we couldn’t provide an outreach to find out what would be a consensus of the town. That hasn’t been done. I think the reason it hasn’t been done is because certain people want to do things the way they want, they are in charge, and they don’t want to hear what the people might want.
TBN: So how do you engage the people?
Camaioni: The first thing would be to actually contact them. Just do a simple mailer. We could request that they go to a website and post their opinions. There are so many electronic communication devices these days though the internet that the idea that people have to take off work to show up at a meeting is absurd. People should be able to provide us their opinions. And we should be able to review those. Another thing I would do immediately is move the time back for the meetings. When people have to work until 5, having a meeting before 5 means that what we are doing is trying to make sure that some people can’t go to the meeting. That is not the way that government should work. The county has moved their meeting back to 6:30 and that was the proper thing to do. The town needs to do that same thing. To do otherwise is almost intentionally disenfranchising certain citizens because they could lose their jobs if they take off for a meeting.
TBN: What is your opinion about how the town is run by the staff and Mayor Norris?
Camaioni: Considering the list of problems that there have been I don’t have a great opinion about the way things have been managed. As far as whom in town government should be held responsible, whose failures there were, in the end sometimes that is hard to say unless you were involved in the process at the time. Sometimes people make decisions because they have been given bad information by employees. It is really difficult to put too much blame when you weren’t part of the official process as it was going through. I have complained about some of the decisions that Mr. Mattingly has made in the past Also looking at some of the documentation that the county commissioners were given at that time some of the information was not provided that should have been to make the decisions. That doesn’t mean that when you are in charge you are supposed to take the responsibility to make sure that you really have all of the information. I think it is spread around a little bit
TBN: What is your understanding about how much power the mayor has vs. the town council members?
Camaioni: I see the mayor’s position as a management position and the council members really have more power. But at the same time the mayor would set more of an agenda to decide the different paths that the town might go on for their decisions. Even though the mayor may not have as much power to control the decisions he can provide direction and also being able to go over all of the information you have a chance to make your arguments as to whether or not these decisions should be made based upon the facts. Sometimes people make these decisions based on what they want and not what is realistically the best choice for the town and the people in the town. It is up to the mayor to point out those times and to convince council members that they need to make their decisions based upon what’s in the best interest of the town and not their own personal; best interest.
TBN: How would you like the town to address future development at the Wharf?
Camaioni: At the wharf itself there is only a small piece of property that is left.
TBN: Can it be commercially developed?
Camaioni: I do believe we can do something with that The idea that was put out that that we can’t do anything there because it will be something that people don’t want to look at. You don’t have to build something in a manner that will be aesthetically incorrect. We can put planning into the process to try to make anything we put in that area fit in with the surroundings so it won’t be a negative but a positive for the area. Those people who built the townhouses they bought into a full plan. They have received one little piece of that plan. The idea that they paid a lot of money for something that they thought they were going to receive and didn’t doesn’t sit very well with me. When you give the impression that you are going to provide something you should provide it and especially if you are with town government.
TBN: Your flier says you would support giving business owners in town the right to vote.
Camaioni: Actually what I said was I have a question about the idea that they are paying taxes in town. When you are a business owner, a property owner and you are paying taxes and I believe there is supposed to be No Taxation Without Representation. I think on a smaller scale for the town if the town is taxing people and then saying you don’t have a say in government, I think that needs to be addressed. Someone can move into town just coming there for a very short period of time, they can rent their property and not even be a property owner and they can register to vote and they can vote. But you can own a business in town for 30 years and be part of the entire community and being there all day long seven days a week and you don’t even get a say in government, it doesn’t seem to be in line with providing the rights we are supposed to provide.
TBN: Would it be legal to do something like that?
Camaioni: The town can say you can’t just provide people this right because they are property owners. I can understand that. Someone could just own a small piece of property. But when you are a business person and you are in town most of the time I don’t think that restriction applies the same way. If you look at the requirements in general it has to do with how much time you spend in the area. A judge said if it was decided how much time they spent in time, then that would be a whole different issue. We don’t want people to buy their right to vote but if they earn it then they deserve it.
TBN: Tell the people of Leonardtown why they should vote for you on May 1?
Camaioni: I believe I have the business experience and the real estate experience which would be helpful to the town. Real estate is involved in almost everything they do in town. That’s where the big mistakes have been made. With the idea of going over projects and contracts and things that would be good for the town, I have that experience. Like the wharf project down by the pier, if I was involved in that there would have been some assurances put in place to make sure that the town gets what the town expected and that the people who were purchasing those townhouses got what they expected. There should have been backup contractors. There should have been assurances and bonding put in place to make sure that the town was not held hostage by what the developer wanted to do. All of that should have been set in stone ahead of time. That’s the sort of thing I will make sure happens in the future if I am mayor.
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