After a five-year break from elected office, former Laurel Council member Michael Sarich is aiming to get back into city politics by making a run for mayor.
Sarich, 38, served as a council member for Ward 2 from 2002 to 2008 but left office to pursue a law degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. In that time he has gotten married and is expecting his first child next year, and he says his commitment and engagement with the community never waivered.
“I have a vision and a plan for the community that’s realistic and achievable,” he said.
His vision includes aggressively expanding the commercial tax base along Main Street, an area he said does not capitalize on its proximity to a MARC station and I-95.
He said he wants to attract businesses and fill vacant store fronts, resulting in more shopping options for Laurel residents who would then pay lower property taxes because of an increase in commercial tax revenues.
“The average citizen in Laurel in subsidizing the lack of investments in Main Street and Laurel,” he said. “It’s a vicious cycle…They’re subsidizing the failure of Laurel.”
But before Sarich can attempt to revitalize Main Street, he’ll need to convince voters to come out to the polls Nov. 1 and defeat Mayor Craig A. Moe who is seeking a third term in office.
In a city of more than 20,000, only 408 voters turned out for the last general election in 2008, according to records. In 2009, there were 13,647 registered.
Sarich has been critical of Moe for the Laurel Lakes path earlier this summer and the city council for not adequately embracing the diversity of Laurel within the city government, he said.
Sarich called Moe’s decision to close the Laurel Lakes path one of the most “inappropriate “ administrative decisions in recent years.
“As mayor, I am not going to close parks. We’re going to open parks,” he said. "I’m not running against Moe, I am running for Laurel.”
City Hall, he said, would also see leadership changes that would reflect the racial diversity within the city.
“There are likely to be staff adjustments,” he said. “People think [Laurel] is Mayberry but we’re not, we can’t afford to act like we’re in” a small town.
Sarich's supporters agree Laurel should move past its small town image.
Resident Carlos Garcia, who owns in the city, said changes are needed to spur growth.
"As a resident and business owner in Laurel, I feel like we have an administration that is completely out of touch," he said. "Mike is very connected. He is very pro-business. I feel like he has a vision."
Chantel Upshur-Myles, a Sarich supporter, said that he always has the community at heart.
"I believe in what he's doing--his values," she said. "He's tapped into the heartbeat of the City of Laurel. We need change."
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