ELKTON — Mayor Rob Alt is seeking re-election to his office, and he hopes that he can use the next four years to continue steering his hometown in the right direction
“I want to tell you, if I didn’t think I wasn’t doing the right thing or going in the right direction, I’d be the first not to run for office,” Alt told the Whig last week. “But I believe we have a great team. I’m proud to be serving with the board I’m serving with. I hope I can keep Elkton back on track.”
Alt, 56, has a long political resume — that includes stints with both Republican and Democratic parties — when it comes to local public service. He started with a single term as a town commissioner in 1994, and after that, he quickly moved to the mayoral office.
In 2002, he decided to take a step back from politicking to focus on his family.
“I had three young children, and I probably took it for granted. Shuffling work [as a manufacturer representative], family and the town was very difficult to do,” Alt said. “I made a commitment that I would be with my kids through all their sports up to the point they went to college.”
Despite this, Alt mounted a campaign for State Senate in District 36 as a self-described “extremely conservative Democrat” in 2010. Alt had registered as a Republican as soon as he could vote, but switched parties to “support a friend” that was running on the Democratic ticket in Cecil County.
Both campaigns were unsuccessful, and Alt returned to the Republican Party two years later.
“If you look back 12 years ago, everyone here was a Democrat. It’s changed,” Alt said. “I can say I’ve been on both sides of the river and there’s no difference in local politics.”
Ultimately, Alt returned to run for mayor again in 2014 after his children went to college. “Getting Elkton back on track” was his slogan, and that reflected a time when the town, the county and the country was in economic turmoil.
“We needed some hope, energy and enthusiasm, and I felt like I was the right person to bring that. I feel like I’ve done that,” he said. “I feel like the big ship is starting to turn and there’s so much more we can do.”
Alt points to the 3 percent drop in crime compared to the town’s five-year average as something he will strive to continue in the future. It would also continue a campaign promise he made in 2014: improving public safety by creating and maintaining a cleaner, safer and more attractive atmosphere.
“We’re doing that every day by working on the parks and the downtown camera system. We have eight cameras up and the goal is to have them throughout the entire town,” he said. “I want to hit all the hotspots like Landing Lane and Cow Lane. I think it’ll hinder crime.”
Alt added that he wants to create a strong employment base in Elkton, as businesses open and shutter within years. Some business expansions like Terumo Medical Center and W.L. Gore have done wonders for the town, but Alt said he wants to focus on the west end of town.
The impending arrival of a marble countertop company at the old Ashland Inc. site on 329 W. Main St. could lead that change.
“That’s filling a building that’s been vacant for seven years and bringing 50 mid-range jobs. I truly believe the action — and when you see the activity that goes on there — it’ll deter a lot of crime,” he said.
Alt said he hasn’t given up on his “big dream” of an Elkton sports complex that would hopefully sit on the 800 acres between Pulaski Highway, Frenchtown Road and Route 213. Last year, he unsuccessfully lobbied for state funding for a sports complex study.
“It is a big dream, and it’s something that it can change not only Elkton, but Cecil County. I still have a vision for that project,” Alt said. “The challenges are finding someone that could buy the project. If that happens, we’d help them through regulations and we’d be the guy that goes to the state and makes things happen.”
So far Alt faces no competition in the May 8 municipal election, and time is dwindling for challengers to file. Competition is also scarce for two open commissioner seats — incumbents Jean Broomell and Mary Jo Jablonski face Elkton High School special education teacher Nicole Hammond in the polls. Candidates have until March 8 to file.