Laurel’s at-large candidates differ on speed cameras, task force -- Gazette.Net


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Youth services advocate Adrian Rousseau said for the Nov. 5 election, he doesn’t want anyone to think Laurel’s councilman-at-large race is in the bag.

“I had a lot of people tell me they didn’t come out to vote because they thought I had it well in hand,” said Rousseau, 50, who works as a security consultant and contractor. In 2011, Rousseau lost the at-large race with 41 percent of the vote.

In the 2011 election, 13.4 percent of Laurel’s registered voters came to the polls, which city clerk Kim Rau said is high for Laurel municipal elections, where turnout has generally been in the single digits.

Once again, Rousseau will square off in a rematch for the council seat held by Michael Leszcz, 66, who is seeking his ninth term in office.

In addition to Laurel’s at-large race, council seats are also contested in both wards.

Leszcz said he and his colleagues on the council offer a “steady hand” to move the city forward as it moves out of the recession.

“Things have been slow now, but they’re starting to gel now,” said Leszcz, citing the development of the Laurel Towne Centre at the site of the old Laurel Mall, which has been in development for more than 10 years and which is expected to open in fall 2014.

Rousseau, a volunteer at the Laurel Boys & Girls Club, said he would like to see the city do more to assist the club, which provides educational and athletic opportunities for youths.

Levet Brown, president of the Laurel Boys & Girls Club, has asked the city for regular funding and support in obtaining grants to help the club cover operational costs. The city currently helps support the club through assistance with utilities and in-kind services, city spokesman Pete Piringer said.

“It should be paid with our tax dollars, because it serves a community good,” Rousseau said. “It keeps kids off the streets and off the police blotter. That’s a benefit to the entire community.”

Leszcz said he is not ready to propose any solutions to the club’s fiscal woes until he sees the recommendations of a task force created by the city and the club to review the club’s finances and consider avenues of funding.

The final report is expected to be presented to the council in early October.

“I’m a data analyst by trade,” said Leszcz, who works for the Internal Revenue Service in its Data Management Division. “I’m waiting for the report, so I can analyze the information and speak with my colleagues, then together formulate a plan based on all the information and move forward.”

Rousseau said he would like the city to revisit its use of speed cameras and red light cameras. Laurel currently operates eight red-light cameras, six speed cameras and two decoy speed cameras, according to city spokesman Pete Piringer.

“They’re basically speed traps,” Rousseau said. “They’re about reaching into people’s pockets in this community and not giving anything back.”

Leszcz said he supports cameras to improve safety.

“We get accused of it being a revenue generator, but I’d be happier if people just drove the speed limit and stopped at red lights,” Leszcz said.

Leszcz said the speed cameras, including the dummy cameras, are making a difference in people’s driving habits and improving public safety.

Piringer said the amount of citations the city issued from speed cameras dropped from 90,382 in 2011 to 36,511 in 2012.

janfenson-comeau@gazette.net