Tom deSabla said he is running for president of the Charles County commissioners as well as the local Republican Central Committee in order to stand up for freedom.DeSabla, 53, of La Plata said the lack of economic growth in the county and the country are a result of excessive rules and regulations enacted by the local and federal governments. The rules and regulations make it more difficult for an individual to start a business.
“I want to try to stand up for freedom for the individual in this country that was founded on that,” deSabla said.
The 2014 election will be the first time deSabla has run for political office. Charles County Commissioner Reuben B. Collins II (D) is currently his lone opponent in the race for board president. As a candidate, deSabla said he will he push for lower taxes, higher ethical standards and fewer business regulations.
Growth in the county’s budget has outpaced growth in population, deSabla said. He is concerned that Charles County’s tax rate is too high.
“We have the highest taxes of any county in the state,” he said. “It’s a fact, and that’s amazing to me.”
Charles County’s current real property tax rate of $1.205 per $100 of assessed value is the highest of any county in the state, outstripped only by Baltimore city, which has a $2.248 rate, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
“It could fairly be said we are the most mismanaged county in the state,” deSabla said.
DeSabla also said the county practices “overzealous code enforcement” and referred to the controversy that embroiled a Waldorf meat processor for nearly a year beginning in spring 2012 as an example. County staff determined the business was operating outside of local zoning rules, but the Board of Special Appeals ultimately granted a special exception in February.
“That’s a perfect example of what we have to stop doing,” deSabla said.
He also wants the county to focus more on creating jobs rather than attracting outside businesses.
“I think we need to support organic business growth in this county, not lure big businesses from outside,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to offer special deals to outside businesses to get them to come here because that’s not fair to the people that are already here. Relocating people is a zero sum game, because what you gain here, somebody else has to lose.”
The government makes up a much larger percentage of the country’s economy than it used to, he said, but does not turn a profit or have a savings account, so it is “not a proper and fit repository.”
“We cannot have our entire economy be our government,” deSabla said, adding that when the government fails, it just keeps going and claims that a lack of resources caused the failure.
If elected, deSabla said he will propose an immediate 10 percent pay cut for the Charles County commissioners.
“You have to lead by example,” he said.
DeSabla moved from Montgomery County, where he grew up, to Charles County in 2009 with his wife, Christine, and her three children. He said he and his family wanted to be able to own more land than they could afford in Montgomery, and they were able to do so in Charles but also found other positive factors.
“We didn’t realize how nice people are here. There were a lot of good things we didn’t realize until we got [to Charles County],” deSabla said.
A stay-at-home dad currently in his second year home-schooling his two younger stepchildren, he is concerned about the budget for public education and relieving overcrowding in the county’s school system.
His plan to reduce overcrowding involved providing scholarships to students at overcapacity schools that would allow parents to either home-school or send their child to another public or private school. For every student a school is over capacity, one scholarship would be provided, he said.
DeSabla has worked in different fields in his career, including construction, installing drywall and carpet and selling cemetery plots. He owned a small carpet business during the late 1980s and mid-1990s, he said.
“I’ve done a lot of things, and that’s what gives me perspective,” he said.
Along with his “diverse background,” deSabla said he would bring “the perspective of an outsider” to county government.
“I think we need more citizen politicians than professional politicians, people who know what it’s like when you get a letter from the code enforcement division and you’ve got to tear down what you’ve been working on,” he said.
If he is not elected — the county does not have a single partisan office currently held by a Republican — he will still get involved in the community somehow, he said.
Collins A. Bailey of Waldorf also has filed for candidacy for the GOP Central Committee, according to the State Board of Elections website as of Thursday afternoon.
Nine seats are open on the committee.