Professor turns to politics

July 04, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Richard Walton says a car accident that left him struggling to learn to walk again changed his outlook on life.

"It's not what you've lost but what you have and what you do with it," Walton said.

That determination has aided him in raising his family, through a career with the New York City Division of Corrections and, most recently, in his run for Keedysville Town Council, he said.

Walton, 68, was elected to the council in May with 37 votes.

"Keedysville is a small, picturesque community that is now feeling the effect of growth," Walton said.

Drawing from his background as a business professor at New York University, Walton said he will approach town issues from a "supply and demand" perspective.

His first step to an issue will be to research it to determine how many residents would be affected and in what ways, he said. Then he can determine the town's resources and how to best deal with the situation.


Some of Keedysville's biggest problems are quality-of-life issues such as speeding and a lack of communication among town leaders and residents, Walton said.

Walton, who lives on South Main Street, said he knows that many drivers don't obey the 25 mph speed limit and are a nuisance with squealing tires and loud stereos.

The traffic solution may be as simple as placing a radar sign that lists a motorist's speed on town streets. Or it may require the more costly decision to pay the town's resident deputy to work more hours in Keedysville.

Walton said one way residents would have better access to town officials would be through a town Web site that he could implement using his extensive computer training.

A Web site would be convenient and provide those who are uncomfortable speaking at town meetings with a way to express their concerns, he said.

"The people want to see some changes," Walton said.

A Long Island, N.Y., native, Walton moved to Keedysville with his wife Suzanne, 66, in 1978. They have four children: Eve, 42; Richard Jr., 40; Desmond, 38; and Matthew, 34.

Walton retired from the New York City Division of Corrections three years ago as a business manager and head of the computer training department. For the past several years, he has been an associate professor teaching online graduate business courses for New York University.

Walton said he will try to strike a balance between maintaining the town's heritage and adapting the municipality to meet the changing needs of its residents.

Walton said he is researching the possibility of burying the town's power lines as part of the state's Streetscape project.

"We have a historically precious area that's worth preserving as a gift to future generations," he said.

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