By Emma Reilly
Elm Staff Writer
In a letter to Chestertown residents dated April 5, former Mayor Chris Cerino announced his immediate resignation. The mayor attributed his decision to vacate the mayorship to mental and physical health concerns brought on by excessive stress.
According to The Chestertown Spy’s Jim Dissette ‘71, a Sophie Kerr award winner at WC, councilmembers Meghan Efland and Tom Hertz both expressed their regret that circumstances had pushed the mayor towards resignation.
“It’s a great loss to the town, but I understand his point of view,” Hertz said at the end of the April 6 Town Council Meeting.
Cerino, who has been Chestertown’s mayor since 2014, leaves behind a promising foundation for the future development of the town.
Key takeaways from Cerino’s time in office include the economic enterprises and social justice projects he helped enact, promote, and fund.
“The economic development programs that have been put into place, and social justice initiatives designed to address issues of equity and inclusion, are just beginning to bear fruit, and will benefit our residents for years to come,” Cerino said.
In 2018, Cerino was applauded by former Washington College President Kurt Landgraf for his work on the construction of the Chestertown Marina.
Revitalization of the marina was a contentious but prosperous undertaking. According to the Upper Shore Crier, Landgraf saw Cerino’s involvement in the project as significantly beneficial to the town’s tourism industry and historical legacy.
Landgraf presented Cerino with the President’s Medal at the 2018 George Washington’s Birthday Convocation.
On the social justice front, Cerino has been collaborating with Chestertown residents and town officials to generate community dialogue surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion issues since September 2020.
According to the Chestertown Unites Against Racism website, Cerino was commended by Town Council members for his support of the Equity Advisory Committee and their initiatives.
While Cerino has dedicated significant time and effort to the improvement of Chestertown and to the support of its residents, his resignation doesn’t signal an end to positive change.
“I think two terms and eight years is plenty of time,” Cerino said in Brian Saucedo’s piece for What’s Up? Magazine. “Sometimes for a town of our size, it’s nice to get new ideas and new energy.”
This statement still rings true almost three years later. With the mayorship vacant, the Chestertown community will have ample time to think about the kind of person the town needs to guide its future endeavors.
Elections for mayor and town council will be held on the first Tuesday of November, according to the Chestertown Code of Ordinances. In the interim, community members should seek mayoral candidates who take the continuation of Cerino’s social and economic pursuits seriously.
A leader with demonstrated interest in Chestertown’s diversity and inclusion initiatives would be able to gather more momentum for the programs Cerino supported, and supplement them with their own goals.
Chestertown could especially benefit from a mayor who identifies with a minority group that has been affected by the past struggles with equity.
In addition to this, an understanding of the town’s history and maritime culture would serve Cerino’s successor well in their attempts to connect with constituents.
In an area as small and closely-knit as Chestertown, a mayor needs to understand the complexities of public perspective on every issue and initiative, so communication and connection with residents is key to strong leadership.
Most importantly, the town should mean something to the person who governs it.
“It doesn’t get much better than Chestertown and Kent County,” Cerino said to Saucedo.
This is the kind of love Chestertown’s next mayor should have for the area and community they’ll be serving for four years — because it’s love that inspires true progress.
Featured Photo caption: Former mayor of Chestertown Chris Cerino resigned from his post on April 5, 2021.Elm File Photo.