02 August 2022- After sitting down with Hagerstown Mayor Emily Keller for an extended time today, it seems that her outreach initiatives have succeeded as has her time in office. Hagerstown’s mayor since 2021, Keller has made it clear she wants to hear her constituents out on what they think are the biggest problems in Hagerstown.
“We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t want to be held accountable”, said Keller during a July Q&A on Facebook Live, which you can find here.
The event was structured almost like a speed dating event, where patrons of Cannon Coffee, where the event was held, took their drinks or meals out to the patio where the mayor could address them individually. Floating between the tables with the flow of people coming and going throughout the morning, Mayor Keller talked to a number of people even after her 10am advertised stopping time. While she was there with a small number of staff personnel, Mayor Keller met with everyone individually.
The event was casual, with people enjoying a coffee, latte, or baked goods. People stuck around so they could talk to the mayor and it almost seemed like some people were there without even knowing that it was a designated event.
After finishing with constituents, Mayor Keller and I got a chance to talk about everything. We went from how the event went to music, local and national politics, her personal small business, and more. While it may seem that Hagerstown gets painted sometimes in a bad light, Mayor Keller wanted to stress the progress the city has gone through in the past five to ten years. With a 15% reduction in crime since 2015, Mayor Keller attributed that to an increase in staffing for Hagerstown PD. While staffing is still an issue with HPD, as it is with almost all police jurisdictions across the US, their numbers have steadily increased over the last number of years. According to Mayor Keller, Hagerstown has reduced the total number of crimes but has been battling an increase in drug and gang related crimes.
One other point that Mayor Keller made was the increase in large capital projects. The highlight of these recently is the indoor sports facility as well as the new baseball park for the resurgent Hagerstown professional baseball team. The indoor facility looks to have both turf and hard court surfaces that will be ready within the next year or so.
While informal, Mayor Emily Keller’s Coffee with the Mayor seemed to be a resounding success at bringing together the community in dialogue. Keller seemed eager to continue with not only this format but also expanding it. She mentioned that she wanted to hold a similar event later in the day to account for people who could not make the event today because of work. This possible event, held around 6-8 or so at night, would feature much of the same style presumably. This means that not only is the Hagerstown government connecting with its constituents, the constituents are engaged within the local system. A win for all, I believe this format will have legs for the future as well as encourage everyone and anyone to work with their local municipalities. Whether you have gripes, praise, or anything else attend your local government meetings and events.