Communities throughtout Maryland are embracing smart growth by supporting investment in our cities and towns, improving housing and transportation choices, and protecting Maryland's natural areas and working rural lands.
Upon arriving in the small Southern Maryland town of Indian Head, one comes across countless boarded up storefronts. But this unique Charles County town has received lots of attention recently due to the election of 19-year-old mayor Brandon Paulin -- making history as Maryland’s youngest mayor.
1000 Friends had the opportunity to meet with this inspiring young leader who says he wants to incorporate key elements of smart growth to develop and “change the perception” of Indian Head from a run-down town to a thriving center of jobs and activity.
What Indian Head lacks in amenities – like a grocery store, restaurants and shops – it makes up for with its array of parks, its nature trail or “Rail Trail,” and the popular Mattawoman Creek. A native of Indian Head, Paulin noted that fishing and kayaking along the Mattawoman – along with preserving it – has been “something I’ve always done and something I’m passionate about.”
Paulin explains that one of his main goals is to make the town more inviting to those who come to Indian Head for an outdoors experience and for those who work at the Indian Head Naval Support Facility. He says that his “willingness to work” with small businesses is one way he hopes to fill the vacant buildings.
A key element of smart growth is investing in our cities and towns where considerable investment in infrastructure has already been made, and that is exactly what this young mayor intends to do. By offering incentives to get vacant buildings filled and bringing in new businesses, Paulin promises revitalization and newfound hope for the community.
While working as mayor to bring businesses and jobs into Indian Head, Paulin also balances his time as a political science major going into his sophomore year at the College of Southern Maryland. When asked whether he thought his schooling would interfere with his work as mayor, he explained how the May election period, and the frenzied media coverage that came along with it, coincided with his midterm exams. He admitted that, “This is the busiest I’ll ever be,” and is confident in his ability to adjust and remain focused on both his academics and his objectives as mayor.
Even though he is so active in politics at such a young age, Paulin says his parents don’t follow politics closely and weren’t a factor in his decision to run for mayor and his choices as mayor. While his parents are always supportive and encourage him to express his own opinions, Paulin explains that they never try to impede on his decisions or sway his political views. He even jokes that “they avoid politics at all costs.”
Having been an active member in his community since the age of 12, when he started attending town hall meetings, reviving Indian Head and doing what the residents of the town of 3,900 want are goals he is dedicated to achieving. Paulin is confident and optimistic when he says that “at the end of these four years, I want the people to see progress.”
Paulin hasn’t given much thought to a future in politics – and in fact does not even identify with any political party – but is certain about one thing: his mission to improve and bring progress to Indian Head. He stresses that he has “got to do Indian Head first before anything else.”