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Mayor expected to seek fourth term

January 12, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Hagerstown Mayor Steven T. Sager is expected to file today to seek an unprecedented fourth four-year term in the mayor's office.

The Democrat is expected to announce his formal candidacy this morning at 9:30 in front of the row houses in the 300 block of North Prospect Street - a project symbolizing the city's cooperative efforts with other agencies to increase the Hub City's homeownership rate.

Now that Washington County's unemployment rate is below that of Maryland's and the nation's - it was an estimated 4 percent in November - it's time to switch the main focus from economic development to improving neighborhoods, Sager said.

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City officials will continue to work on improving the city's economic development, but "Neighborhoods First" would be Sager's top priority if he is re-elected in the general election on May 20.

The centerpiece of that idea is to increase the city's homeownership rate because neighborhoods tend to have greater stability when most of the neighbors own their own homes, he said.

Sager, 43, of 809 Dewey Ave., said he wants to see the city's homeownership rate turn around in 10 years from 38 percent to 50 percent. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, 60 percent of Maryland householders own their own homes.

The mayor and Council members have already discussed using money from a community betterment fund they're creating to help the Radcliffe Avenue neighborhood between the Ames Shopping Center and 1st Urban Fiber.

Some type of screening should be installed so neighbors cannot see the back of the shopping center or the looming figure of the paper recycling plant, Sager said.

"It's my hometown and I want to apply my skills towards its continued rejuvenation," the 1971 North Hagerstown High School graduate said of the Hub City.

To those who may question Sager's sincerity in running for mayor after recently failing an attempt to apply for a job as executive director of the Maryland Theatre, Sager says the mayor's job is what he wants.

"This is not a job you do if you don't want to do it," he said. It requires commitment.

However, Sager won't promise to remain the full-time mayor he has been since 1986, his second year in the mayor's office.

"The need to set aside some money for my daughters' college education" may drive him to seek a second, part-time job, he said.

Sager and his wife, Carroll, 46, have two daughters, Rebecca, 9, and Elizabeth, 7.

If re-elected, Sager would receive a $4,000 pay raise from his current mayoral salary to $28,000 a year. Sager proposed that pay increase in October to the City Council as a way of encouraging more candidates to apply for office.

The deadline to file for mayor or City Council is Friday, Jan. 24. The only other candidate to have filed for mayor as of Friday was Robert E. Bruchey II.

Sager was supervisor of the city's community development department from 1978 to 1982 when he was dismissed from his job as a cost-cutting measure by city officials.

He worked for the National Association of State Development Agencies as manager of state and local economic development programs from 1982 to 1984.

For two years in the mid-1980s he had his own consulting company, Sager's Development Resources, to advise private developers on revitalization projects.

Sager is a 1975 graduate of Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. He received a masters of science in management from Frostburg State in 1981.

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