Mike Dawson is running for one of two seats up for election on the Perryville Board of Town Commissioners because he believes priorities are out of whack in town hall.

"We need to get back to the basics," Dawson said. "You can't do the big things until you get the little things right."

Dawson, 37, is one of five names on the May 10 ballot, including incumbent Town Commissioner Michelle Linkey, Robert Matthews, a former town commissioner, George Hornbarger and Brian Williams.

Incumbent Gary Tennis has decided not to seek re-election.

Dawson said Perryville officials should not be spending the town's share of the proceeds from Hollywood Casino Perryville on such things as a new town hall or improvements to historic structures.

"It's outrageous that we are going to spend $200,000 to replaster the exterior of Rodgers Tavern but our fire department gets $20,000," he said.

Dawson said now is not the time to spend up to $7 million on the town hall, and a new police and public works building.

"I'm not saying we don't need those buildings, but now is not the time. We've got to do the little things," he said.

That would include improving the roads and other infrastructure.

"Why did we have 13 water main breaks?" he said. "We've got people fighting to stay in their houses. We've got struggling businesses."

Dawson said casino revenue needs to be spent responsibly.

"It's almost like our elected officials right now see this as a Powerball win. I see it as a scratch-off ticket and we need to spend it accordingly," he said.

If elected, he said he would also do something to make Perryville business-friendly. That includes changing the language in the town law requiring a 1,000-foot buffer between a liquor establishment and a school or church.

"Our town is small," he said. He called the buffer unrealistic.

"We have a business that wants a liquor license," he said.

At a recent town work session it was revealed that, aside from the American Legion, there are no restaurants in Perryville anymore with a liquor license.

"Almost half our retail and commercial property is vacant. The town should be looking at that occupancy rate," he said.

He favors concentrating future development along the Route 40 corridor.

"We need to do the best we can to attract business to the corridor," he said.

That includes working to improve the toll situation.

"It's time to say we need some help here," Dawson said. He would build a coalition with Harford County to campaign for moving the tolls and to denounce the proposed increase in the $5 toll.

"We need to do things that draw people here," he said.

He added that a $6.25 toll would do nothing to increase business revenue or tourism.

Dawson is in favor of allowing the casino to erect that 175-foot tall lighted sign, which under current town ordinance is not allowed, calling it "a common sense decision."

Overall, Dawson wants Perryville to be a thriving bedroom community with a strong business base.

"We've got to ... make sure it's a safe community, a great place to live, raise a family and to work," he said.



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