BERLIN — There were some familiar names and faces recognized with R. Clayton Mitchell, Jr. Awards for distinguished public service when the honorees were announced last week by State Comptroller Peter Franchot.
Franchot created the award for distinguished public service in honor of the late Delegate and Speaker of the House. Mitchell was an Army veteran and farmer who ascended to Speaker of the House in Maryland, where he served for many years.
Mitchell worked tirelessly to improve access to education, modernize transportation and invest in open space programs to preserve Maryland. The Mitchell Award recognizes past or current elected officials at all levels of government who exemplify his spirit of public service, demonstrating strong leadership, humility and compassion for their communities.
Franchot presented Mitchell Awards last week to honorees in each jurisdiction around the state in a virtual ceremony. The former speaker’s son, Clayton A. Mitchell, Sr., partnered with Franchot in the virtual ceremony, offering some personal insights into his father’s tenure as a civil servant.
“Clay was a dear friend and mentor and we lost a grand statesman and cherished public servant when he passed,” said Franchot. “With so many exceptional candidates in the Free State, there were, at times, difficult choices to make.”
Honored from Worcester County was recent Berlin Mayor William “Gee” Williams III, while the honor for Wicomico County went to Salisbury native son and long-time State Delegate Norm Conway. Franchot spoke fondly of Conway’s three decades of service in the House.
“When I think of the Eastern Shore, I often think of Salisbury councilman and State Delegate Norm Conway,” he said. “He began his career as a teacher and a firefighter before taking up the mantle of elected office, a role he excelled in for 30 years. We began our careers together as delegates in 1987 and I quickly learned how willing he was to fight for his constituents.”
Franchot also praised Worcester award-winner Williams for his dedication and vision in helping to shepherd in a renaissance of sorts in Berlin.
“Gee served Berlin as a councilman and mayor for nearly 20 years, transforming the sleepy village into one of the coolest towns in America with his forward thinking, economic development and smart growth policies,” Franchot said. “Gee Williams worked unfailingly for the people of Berlin during his tenure.”