Steve Tuttle is a Democratic candidate for County Commissioner representing District 4. 

Credit: Steve Tuttle

?Steve was born in California but was raised in Texas. Steve’s father served in the United States Marine Corps, while his mother was a factory worker and stay-at-home mom. He has two sisters, Jennifer and Jessica. When Steve was 16, his family moved to Crofton, MD. Steve graduated from Arundel Senior High in 1996.

?Moved to action after the terror attacks on 9/11/01, Steve joined the United States Navy. While stationed at Patuxent River Naval Air Station from 2005 to 2008, Steve fell in love with St. Mary’s County. After 11 years of service with the Navy, Steve accepted a job with a contractor at NAS PAX. In 2013, Steve married his husband Phillip in Leonardtown. Phillip is a United States Air Force veteran, having served as a member of the military police.– Via ElectTuttle.com.

Policy

The primary duty of a county commissioner is to create and implement policy. The following questions identify a commissioner’s priorities and the methods by which they hope to accomplish those goals.

1. What policy changes or investments are necessary to encourage broader employment?  

Higher education, trade schools, and skilled labor are sections we need to focus on.  We need to promote more skilled labor through trade schools at the high school level.  We need to have some companies on base to help invest in those programs and help recruit.

2. What one part of county government would receive more attention if you were elected?

If elected, all of the county government would have my full attention.  Communication and transparency with depts head and staff would be key to building a good trusting working relationship.  Based on that trust, I would work with them to identify their needs and help fix those needs.

3. Do you plan to promote any changes to existing taxes? If so, why

It is paramount for me that before I propose any changes, I conduct a thorough review of the budget. I’ve looked through most of last year’s budget, and I have many questions, but before making any promises, I must ensure I have the entire picture.

4. Are county land-use regulations and permitting processes doing enough to assure the public interest, or are they too onerous?

5. What do you see as the county’s most pressing needs for infrastructure or capital projects?

6. Should the county be encouraging building and development?

(4-6) There is always room for improvement; on the campaign trail, I heard residents’ concerns about empty buildings and new development, and I want to address those concerns early on. Keeping up with the demands from residents for services and keeping with the rural character of St. Mary’s County is a delicate balance. The most pressing needs are the failing infrastructure in Lexington Park, the Solomons Bridge, and making sure we move forward with the YMCA.

7. Should county commissioners write and adopt specific policies, or should the details of these policies be crafted and implemented by boards, commissions, or outside specialists?

The county commissioners have boards and commissions because we are not the experts in all fields, and ensuring that commissioners are staffing those boards with the experts in their fields is important. We have specialists and boards for a reason, and listening to their recommendations will greatly help to guide policy in ways that help our citizens.

Budgeting

A second important duty of county commissioners is to construct, approve and implement a budget. Here are some questions to establish their experience with budgeting and their stance on issues that may arise during the budgeting process.

8. What is your experience with preparing or authorizing budgets?

Over the last several years, I have been on the board of WARM and several HOAs. The HOA budgets are millions of dollars and require collaboration between members and the board. I also work within budgets at the federal level as a government contractor.

9. What are your views on the country’s current level of public debt? If new resources were available, what one area of county services would you feel most needs additional resources?

Our sheriff’s department is being asked to fulfill duties they are not trained in and should not be dealing with. Being a 24-hour emergency response, they are expected to respond to people in a mental health crisis, people experiencing homelessness, and personal crises. Creating a crisis response team with professionals specialized in mental health, substance abuse, and housing would be key to addressing the needs of the sheriff’s office in our community. This response team could be based in the Health Hub in Lexington Park and would take much of the load off our Sherriff’s office so they can focus on responding to emergencies and preventing crime in our communities.

10. Should any part of the county budget be shielded from cuts? And if so, which area?

The Sheriff’s office, emergency management services, and education funding are all essential services that can not afford cuts.

11. What element of the county’s government is most effective, and why?

With the addition of the roving ambulance, our Emergency Services department is highly effective. Adding paid services has decreased wait times across the county and is helping to fill the gaps that COVID exacerbated. I hope that the partnership between the rescue squads and these paid services becomes so effective and encourages more participation in the volunteer program so that we can cut back on the need for paid services. Still, until that time, I’m happy to have great staff in that office.

12. Are county taxes too high, about right, or pleasantly low?

Let me start by saying they are not low. I think there is absolutely room for improvement, but I also think that the services being offered to citizens are on par with the current demand for services. We must pass the Disabled Veterans tax break to give those who gave so much a much-needed break, but I would also like a better idea of the entire budget before making broad statements.

Management

County commissioners are also responsible for the county’s workforce. Below are some questions that inquire into views about staffing priorities and public administration in general.

13. What is an appropriate ratio of local government employees to constituents?

14. When managing public agencies, is it better to have more employees at a modest wage or few employees at a wage high enough to attract quality applicants?

15. Would citizens get more effective services at a better rate if more county functions were accomplished by contracting with private providers?

(13-15) I don’t believe there is an easy answer to the ratio of county workers to citizens. Every job is different, and the Department of Public Works and Transportation’s needs are very different than Emergency Services. Pay for county employees should be based on the job and a livable wage, considering the educational and work experience of the employee while using other means to provide fringe benefits to employees that don’t directly cost taxpayer dollars.

Moving county employees to contract would likely look better on paper, but from experience as a contract worker myself, the contractors are there to make money for their businesses. I do not believe that contracting with private providers would provide the level of customer service and return on investment that would make residents happy with their services.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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