The town of Easton will hold municipal elections on Tuesday, May 4.
Town Council President Megan Cook and Council members Don Abbatiello and Rev. Elmer Davis do not have any filed opponents on their reelection bids. Cook, Davis and Abbatiello talked to The Star Democrat about their priorities for the town.
They talked about improving parks, infrastructure and walkability.
Cook wants to help downtown restaurants with outdoor dining. Abbatiello has a focus on fiscal responsibility. Davis — a former police lieutenant — wants to see more diversity reflected at the Easton Police Department and other agencies.
Davis, Cook and Abbatiello are expected to breeze to reelection wins. But the issues they are talking about are important for the town and Talbot County as a whole.
Easton launched an outdoor dining program last year to help Washington Street restaurants hit hard by the pandemic. We need to see more creative ways in Easton and other towns on the Shore to help restaurants, music venues, theaters and nonprofits still facing challenges from COVID, social distancing rules and changes in consumer and business spending.
Those solutions need to be innovative, aggressive and quickly implemented. We also agree with the need for more diversity within law enforcement. That is a challenge throughout the Shore, Maryland and the country.
Police departments are having challenges recruiting and retaining officers. Towns on the Shore are going to have to address those challenges, including pay and benefits. Our communities are also challenged to make needed reforms to policing — especially when it comes to race and class.
Some of those reforms hinge on broader changes to inequities in the entire legal system as well as reforms of drug laws.
We have to acknowledge that police officers are being tasked with enforcing drug laws and are often the first ones to respond to mental health, domestic violence and abusive situations.
There needs to be a systematic and paradigm-shifting look at responses to those situations and how we train and equip police officers and first responders.
Still, we need police officers who are reflective of and are able to live in the communities they serve.
That gets into pay for emergency responders as well as housing costs and supplies on the Shore. We know housing is a challenge and an issue that also needs creative and private sector solutions.
The Easton elections are not expected to be very suspenseful.
But the issues and challenges the sitting candidates are talking about are very important for the community and across the Shore.