Former Director of Emergency Services Brings Wealth of Experience to New Role

The New Year will bring a change of leadership at the highest levels of Talbot County government. On January 1, 2021, Talbot County’s Director of Emergency Services Clay Stamp steps into the role of county manager. His management experience combined with knowledge of local and state politics will serve him well as he takes the helm in his new position. TalbotWorks caught up with Clay on the eve of his new job. Read on to see what he has to say.

TW: Congratulations on being named county manager! You have had a long and distinguished career as a public servant in Maryland. Can you give us an overview of how you got to this point in your career and how it has shaped your approach to your new job as the county’s chief executive officer?

CS: It’s been a tremendous journey over the years. From the time I began as an emergency medical responder in Ocean City, Maryland, and ascending through the leadership ranks to eventually lead organizations at the local and state levels, my focus has been — and remains today — on the individual.

Any success I have experienced has always been centered on a strong belief in people — and teams of people — coming together to accomplish great things. In my new role as county manager, I will try to inspire those I work with as a team to prioritize this concept by asking themselves each day if they have done their best to make a positive difference in someone’s life.

Finally, I have found that meeting people where they are, showing respect for others, and openly communicating are keys to building understanding, and ultimately consensus, which is what drives progress. The bottom line is people can accomplish great things when working together.

TW: Tell us a bit about the challenges you see for the immediate future in your new role.

CS:  As county manager, I serve to support a County Council of five individuals who were elected by the people to carry out their policies and to manage county government functions.

I am taking over the reins of this position from an amazing county manager, Mr. Andy Hollis, who has served the county admirably for many years. He has been a great mentor as I have had the honor to serve him as the director of Emergency Services Director and an assistant county manager.

As far as specific challenges, in addition to maintaining fiscal responsibility, investing in our County workforce to maintain critical services, and ensuring responsiveness to our citizens, we continue to navigate the COVID-19 public health crisis and its effect on the people of Talbot County, physically, psychologically, and socially. Attempting to carry out important health recommendations has impacted our ability to communicate, and it is affecting our citizens and our businesses.

During the pandemic, we have worked hard to maintain open lines of communications with our citizens. This effort has required the leadership of our County Council, the emergency services team, the Talbot County Health Department, our economic development and tourism director, and our towns. The majority of grant funds the county received have been directed to support businesses and individuals. These efforts to coordinate issues with multiple entities will continue.

Also, I think it is important that we try our best to openly communicate as we push forward without being able to convene as groups in meetings. Like everyone, I am hopeful that we will start to see a reduction in the spread of infections as vaccines become more available and we move into the middle of this upcoming year.

Finally, although the pandemic is front and center, as it should be, we will need to press forward to accomplish specific programs and projects highlighted by our County Council and to ensure we constantly identify efficiencies in our services to citizens. Although challenged by the pandemic, we will have to be creative to continue achieving successes

TW: What are your priorities for the next year, especially regarding economic development and tourism?

CS: Long before the pandemic began, Talbot County laid the groundwork for economic success in our Comprehensive Plan and the Hazard Mitigation and Community Resiliency Plan. These documents identify foundational pillars that are key to the resiliency of the community, including Public Health and Welfare, Environment, Education, Infrastructure, and Economic Stability.

Over the next year, it will be important for Talbot County to continue to focus on supporting these foundational pillars, especially the three resiliency pillars most impacted by the pandemic. These include economic stability, education, and public health and welfare pillars. We will continue to act decisively and identify creative solutions to support our business community.

TW: How has working in emergency management prepared you for the challenges that lie ahead?

CS: As an emergency manager, I have worked with our team to establish and maintain a plan that ensures that we can coordinate preparedness, response, and recovery efforts for emergencies. A key component of this plan is building effective partnerships.

The relationships we’ve built over the years with community organizations including county departments, state agencies, nonprofit organizations, towns, and villages will be keenly important to our success moving forward.

This, in combination with a regular working relationship under the leadership of the County Council, will aid me in my new role.

TW: You have worked in Talbot County government for a number of years.

Please share your thoughts on what makes Talbot County so special.

CS:  It’s the people who make Talbot County so great. Our citizens are informed, engaged, and incredibly generous with their time and money. The amount of talent here never ceases to amaze me.

This is also a very special place in the world. I have said many times that Talbot County is a perfect mixture of the beauty and tradition of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the arts and culture of the more urban and suburban areas of the state. It’s a fine and yet delicate mixture.

For more on Stamp’s background, click here.