Elections Glade Valley Government 

Betsey Brannen for Walkersville Town Commissioner

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 1.  Tell our readers about yourself (family, education, employment, community involvement, etc.):
I’ve realized now that the use of my legal name, Mary Brannen, may be confusing for some. Many of you know me as Betsey Brannen, your local children’s librarian at the Walkersville Library and wife of fellow commissioner candidate, Mitch Brannen. However, many of you know me by my maiden name, Betsey Whitmore, daughter of longtime residents Ralph and Irene Whitmore. I would like to say that I am a 38-year resident of Walkersville; however, from 1998-2016, I was either in school or traveling the country and globe with my husband, who was during this time, an active duty member of the U.S. Army. After my graduation from Walkersville High School in 1998, I received a Bachelor of Arts in History from George Washington University, a Masters of Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma, and a Masters in Information and Library Science from Kent State University. I have worked in libraries since 2013, beginning my career in the U.S. Army Library system. I moved to Frederick County in 2016, serving in the Children’s Department at the Middletown Branch. I currently serve the Walkersville Community as a Children’s Services Supervisor at the brand-new Walkersville Library on Glade Road, our system’s newest branch. I have three children, including my stepson Alex, a recent graduate of West Virginia University, my stepdaughter MacKenzie, a Freshman at Towson University, and Jack, a third-grader at Walkersville Elementary. In the Walkersville Community, I am active in the Walkersville Volunteer Fire Department (you may have seen me this summer working the Big Six Wheel with my father or Mitch) and Glade Valley Athletic Association.
 2.  What prompted you to file as a candidate for the Town of Walkersville government?
I clearly remember the election of my Father to a Commissioner position in the Town of Walkersville. I was in the 5th grade at the Walkersville “B” Building (what is now the FCPS Staff Development Center) on Frederick Street. My teacher, John Zuke, proudly held up a copy of the Frederick News Post announcing my father’s win. I remember he asked me what I thought, to which I replied, “He may be a Commissioner but I’m going to be President.” Years later, as I filed my intention to run in June, I believe it is my Father’s lifelong commitment to service that inspires me. I have lived in many different locations from Bavarian Germany to Kentucky, and I wholeheartedly believe that Walkersville is the absolute best place to live, work, and raise a family. However, this does not happen by accident. It takes strong-willed, dedicated, and community minded individuals to provide its residents with a transparent government that honors our heritage while embracing our future.
 3. What is your main priority if elected?
Recently a resident expressed frustration with a situation occurring in “Old Town.” When I asked her if she and her husband visited a town meeting to make officials aware of what was going on, she said “ What’s the point, if you aren’t Old Walkersville, you aren’t anything.” As an Old, yet New, resident of Walkersville, this is devastating to hear. I would like to see better integration in our town of residents in our larger developments. Sun Meadow, Victoria Park, and Winterbrook developments have been around for almost 20 years. Why should these residents feel as if they are not valid and respected residents of our Community? What does this mean for the new residents of Mill Run, Parkside, Longley Green, and the Bell property? I believe this is accomplished through well planned and town sanctioned events. Walkersville has beautiful parks that can play host to cultural activities and festivals that provide opportunities for all residents to enjoy.
 4. What are the most important issues facing the Town of Walkersville, and how will you address those issues?
The next board will be faced with many issues such as our current sidewalk situation, the building of the new water treatment facility and Heritage Farm Park Closed Pavilion, and our relationship with our Resident Troopers.  In my opinion, one of the bigger issues facing the Town of Walkersville is the areas of business blight throughout our community. I would hope that if elected to the Board, I could work with my other Commissioners and Burgess to better address how this affects attracting new businesses to the town and overall code enforcement.
 5. How long have you lived in Walkersville?
Technically, I have been an official resident of Walkersville since 2016, when my husband and I returned to the area following his retirement from the U.S. Army. However, my lineage to Walkersville spans back to my paternal grandparents who owned Campbell’s Camp Farm off of Biggs Ford Road. Four generations of our family have received Walkersville High School diplomas. The house in which my family resides (on Maple Avenue) is the home my parents purchased in 1983. We are so very thankful to provide our children (and our parents) with the benefits of living in a multi-generational household.
 6. How can Walkersville’s Government support business development within Walkersville?
I would support the possibility of reforming the Economic Development Commission. I find it fascinating that Walkersville is one of the only towns in the county that does not support an EDC. It is difficult to discuss the possibility of bringing new business to the town without the input of current business owners. I would certainly support business growth to the town if it assists in removing the closed storefronts we see throughout the area.
7. What are your plans to inform more residents of issues and events in Walkersville?
I appreciate the way websites such as this one and the Woodsboro-Walkersville Times work to inform our residents of news in our town and surrounding communities. I would; however, like to see more information provided by the Town itself. I would like to see the addition of a social media manager/webmaster to Town Staff, possibly as an intern. This would allow us to expand our reach through various social media channels, but also speak with one “Walkersville voice.”  I do not feel that the Town Facebook page should be moderated by elected officials, as it leads the entire page to potential bias. 
8. What are your thoughts on growth in Walkersville?
According to the Comprehensive Plan, the time for residential growth is coming to an end. I would be opposed to additional residential growth beyond what has already been approved.
9. The following topics will likely come before those elected in September. Please give your thoughts on these topics:
a. Proposed Revision to the Monocacy River Management Plan:
It is my understanding that the County is still waiting on the final plan to be presented, as most recently it was returned to the Board for revision. All of us want a beautiful and healthy Monocacy River. That is what I hope the revisions will address. It is my understanding that many residents view the most recent plan as nothing more than a “land grab.” I would like to see a plan that not only seeks to protect the Monocacy River, but one that seeks to work with our farming community not broadly labeling them all as polluters.
b. Rock Creek School Relocation to Walkersville Middle School property:
It is my opinion that the movement of Rock Creek to the property behind Walkersville Middle School assists Walkersville in continuing to provide some of the best educational resources in the county. We have a brand-new library, four excellent public schools, and host the Staff Development Center. I do wish that the School System had worked better with the Town to discuss traffic options once the school is built. Traffic off Frederick Street at 8 a.m. in the morning is crowded and the addition of 80 to 100 students could add additional traffic on Maple and Maryland Avenues, should the entrance be placed there. However, the property belongs to the school system; therefore, the Town could certainly make requests or suggestions, but that is the extent of our influence.
c. Solar Farm on Biggs Ford Road:
At the interest of full transparency, I will state that the property under question on Biggs Ford Road, is owned by my parents. Although the property is certainly in view of many residents of the Town, it should be noted that the property itself is not located within the town’s purview and is solely responsible to the County and State in regards to this matter. Naturally, if there was a reason that something should come before the Town regarding this property, I would recuse myself from discussion and voting. At a recent informational meeting held by Coronal Energy, the company who is currently optioning the property for solar farm rights, many residents of Walkersville attended the meeting expressing frustration that an eyesore would be in their backyard. This I understand, no one purchases nearby property with the intent that one day they may have a view of solar panels. However, as Coronal has expressed, the panels themselves are low lying to the ground and have significant buffer placed along the property line. A solar farm allows the property to remain within its agricultural zoning, while potentially benefitting Walkersville residents, should Potomac Energy choose to purchase the power produced on site.
d. Water Rates to pay for the new Water Treatment Plant:
Walkersville continues to have some of the lowest water rates and water hookup fees in the County. An excellent example is the nearby town of Middletown, where residents are faced with a varying charge based upon water consumption above 3000 gallons of usage.  Walkersville provides their residents with a flat rate at varying intervals of usage. A resident in Walkersville would pay $72.00 for 10,000 gallons of usage, while a resident in Middletown would pay $144.08. However, when faced with building a state-of-the-art Water Treatment Facility at the cost of over $8 million, raising water rates is inevitable.  
GladeValley.net has asked every candidate for office in the Town of Walkersville’s September 10, 2018 Election the same set of questions. All responses will be shared along with any links to their campaign sites and/or social media provided.
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