- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
There are now three candidates for mayor of Leonardtown in the May 1 town election. Henry Camaioni, 52, filed for the position last Friday.
“There’s been a lot of mistakes, in my opinion, and a lot of money wasted,” Camaioni said Wednesday of his decision to run. “And I feel that these problems need to be addressed directly.”
Camaioni joins Dan Burris, a member of the town council, and Thomas A. Mattingly Sr., a former St. Mary’s County commissioner, in the race. The three are seeking to replace Mayor J. Harry “Chip” Norris III, who announced in January that he would not seek re-election this year. Norris has been mayor for 17 years.
Camaioni said his concerns include the development of the Leonardtown waterfront and the location of a new Leonardtown library. The county commissioners since have dropped plans to build a new library.
“There is more to these things than what town government will have the people informed on, and I don’t think government should be run that way,” Camaioni said.
In 2010, Camaioni ran as a Republican for the Maryland House of Delegates. He lost in the primary election to Matt Morgan, who later lost in the general election to incumbent John F. Wood Jr. (D-St. Mary’s Charles).
Camaioni, a real estate agent with Realty Executives in Annapolis, said this week his business and real estate expertise are among the things that qualify him to be mayor.
“I have been extremely vocal in politics and local government, attending meetings and voicing my opinions as often as I can,” Camaioni said, “and sometimes that might not be what people want to hear, but that’s the whole idea of being involved in politics. You have to address the issues.”
Camaioni said that the way public comment is regarded and reviewed in the town should change.
“Why would anybody show up if their views are just going to be denigrated?” he asked. “To feel that they’re under attack by the people who are supposed to be just listening to them, I believe that’s intentional. It’s a way to try to keep down the people’s voice. You shouldn’t have to be the loudest voice in the room or the squeaky wheel to be heard in government. We should be listening to even the smallest voice.”
Camaioni said he’d make himself more accessible as mayor if elected, offering up email and phone contacts as well as revamping the current public hearing process to include opportunities for people who can’t be physically present at meetings to still have a say.
Camaioni also said he’d like to see the times for town meetings moved to evening to allow for more public attendance. Meetings now begin at 4 p.m.
He also called for an end to closed-door meetings.
“What are they doing that they don’t want the public to know about? I don’t think there’s anything. I think those doors need to be unlocked and we need to be able to have a more open government,” he said. “I consider the position as mayor as more of a management position. I will have suggestions, but I won’t have an agenda where I say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ I hope to be able to collectively run ideas by the public in a more open fashion and see what kind of response that we get.”
Burris’ bid for mayor means there will be at least one new council member. Two council seats are on the town ballot, and so far three candidates have filed: incumbent Walter Wise, Jay Mattingly and Hayden Hammett. The deadline for candidates to file is 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 16.