By Cecilia Cress and Olivia Montes
Mayor of Chestertown David Foster called his leadership position an “accidental” one.
Born in Raleigh, N.C. and raised in University Park, Md., Foster, a graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, previously served as a member of the Peace Corps constructing schools in Gabon, West Africa; the U.S. Marine Corps; the U.S. Agency for International Development; and as an evaluation programs manager in the III Corps in Bien Hoa, Vietnam, according to The Chestertown Spy.
Upon returning from Vietnam and graduating from Virginia Tech with a master’s degree in urban planning, economics, and policy analysis, Foster’s experiences and career opportunities continued to grow.
According to The Chestertown Spy, these experiences include: an engineer and manager for the U.S. Environmental Agency and in the United States Agency for International Development as a senior urban environmental advisor in Asia and Washington, D.C., as the assistant director for urban environment in the Office of Housing and Urban Development. He also resided in a wide range of countries around the world, including Egypt, India, and Romania.
Upon moving to Chestertown in 2011, Foster took on the role of riverkeeper along the Chester River. He also served as Ward 1 Councilman since 2017.
“I really appreciate the diversity in [small] towns, [and] I’m attracted in a perverse sort of way to the challenges of a small town,” Foster said.
According to Foster, it was not until former Mayor Chris Cerino’s resignation on April 6, and further discussions made by the Council on what to do next, that he “held up [his] hand and said [he’d] like to be mayor.”
On May 3, after winning the majority of the Council in a 3-1 vote and the following special election after running unopposed, Foster was officially sworn in as mayor on May 17, according to Kent County News.
Foster said that, alongside addressing issues of the larger world and that of Chestertown, the commitment demonstrated by both fellow government leaders and community members alike have helped the town make necessary and effective changes.
“The mayor and Council really developed the policies for the town…and they try to develop long range plans for the future,” he said. “I think this is a great community. We’ve lived in this town for only 10 years, [but when] I was unanimously elected as mayor…that speaks well for the community in terms of its willingness to accept outsiders [and] students, [and them] accepting all of us.”
When discussing Washington College, Foster said he hopes to strengthen his connections with students, faculty, and staff members alike, with plans to collaborate with WC in providing students the chance to connect and work with the surrounding Chestertown area, including via opportunities to join the Environmental Initiative and Recreational Committee.
According to Foster — while he accepts the possibility of facing new challenges throughout his term as mayor — he remains optimistic about the future, hopeful that the bond between Chestertown and the College will continue to grow stronger and that all will feel welcomed and acknowledged in this small yet mighty community.
“We’re not going to please everybody, [and] that’s fine,” Foster said. “But we do have an obligation to make sure everybody has an opportunity to be heard — and that’s one of the advantages of a small town.”
“If [there’s] a conflict, almost without exception, participants…are still willing to sit down with me to talk,” he said. “[Many] appreciate the fact that I am able to counsel people into this —and that goes a long way.”
If any WC students, staff, and faculty members have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, they can contact Foster at email@example.com.