HURLOCK — Hurlock Council President the Rev. Charles Cephas is looking to lead the town as mayor after the November elections.
Hurlock needs more businesses, he said, and must upgrade its water and sewer infrastructure to attract them. “It will be a growth-oriented administration,” he said July 24.
The Rev. Cephas has been a member of the Hurlock Town Council since Dec. 31, 1999, and council president for the past 10 years. He is bishop of Greater Full Gospel Church in Hurlock, where he has served since 1973.
He studied business management in the Class of 1988 at Chesapeake College. He has also studied loss mitigation and housing counseling at NeighborWork Institute, and leadership at the Maryland Municipal League’s academy. The Rev. Cephas is a member of the Cambridge High School Class of 1969.
“I have the training necessary” in the public and private sectors to do the job, he said. The task, as he sees it, is to bring Hurlock up to the level seen in other Shore towns, some of which have seen significant change in recent years.
While they continue to flourish, he said, Hurlock is not, at least in part because, he said, the Town Council has not worked with him over the past 10 years.
Among those tasks will be bringing more shopping to Hurlock, which he said had much more retail spots in the past. “That’s what I’m going to bring back,” he said.
He wants to work with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to provide low-interest loans to the town’s businesses as a way to help them grow. “This is going to be government and private industry getting together,” he said.
Another idea is to have the town buy vacant properties where businesses used to operate, then work to attract new ones to fill those spots.
Youth and housing
Also on the list is a community center. While Cambridge has places for youth to spend productive time in safety, “We haven’t had one up here in Hurlock at all,” the Rev. Cephas said, adding that talks are continuing with the Boys and Girls Club of Baltimore.
Affordable and safe housing is another topic in his campaign. Rent in Hurlock is excessively high for a small town, he said. There are, though, some houses that will soon be built in Prospect Heights, he said.
Local and county government
Greater activity and independence are goals of the Rev. Cephas, as the town’s government and citizens work to improve Hurlock. “We can’t depend on the county commissioners to do the things we have to do,” he said. “It’s a new way of thinking.”
“The thing is to have a functional council”, he said, with citizen participation, especially in an advisory capacity at budget time.
Some of that citizen input is ready to bring about change. After hearing about the difficulties in spending a day of traveling to the Department of Social Services in Cambridge, the Rev. Cephas said a satellite office for the agency will be located in Hurlock.
“We’re the second-largest municipality in Dorchester County,” he said, and should have facilities available for residents.
He said he will work to bring diversity to the town’s government, which now employs just one African-American. The Rev. Cephas himself would represent change in that direction, which he said is not without its own challenges.
“It’s difficult for some of them to accept that an African-American can be a leader for everyone,” he said.
His goal, though, is to do that, he said, adding, “Everything comes up together.”