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Morris files for council

January 18, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Perennial political candidate Eugene E. "Buddie" Morris filed Friday to seek one of five Hagerstown City Council seats that are up for grabs in the city's May 20 general election.

While concerned about several issues, it was news of the city's $9.96 million debt to the state retirement system that the Democrat said spurred him to file for council.

"They should have been more alert," said Morris, referring to the mayor and council members. "It's ridiculous. They're as bad as the County Commissioners." The county's water and sewer department has a debt of more than $55 million.

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The City of Hagerstown's debt could balloon to $49.2 million if city officials accept the state agency's offer to pay off the debt over 40 years at a 7.5 percent interest rate.

The debt accumulated because the state agency has been under-billing the City of Hagerstown for its contribution to the pension plan for several years.

If elected, Morris said he would check the status of the pension monthly.

Morris, 73, of 1001 Salem Ave., said he also was concerned about how council vacancies are filled. Vacancies should be filled by the runner-up in the previous election, he said.

"If you're going to run, run. If you're not going to run, stay out," he said.

Morris has plenty of experience running for public office.

His last attempt was in 1994 when he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates.

He ran at least twice for City Council, Washington County Commissioner and mayor of Hagerstown in the 1970s and 1980s, including a few write-in campaigns.

Morris said he still has the "gumption" to run and try to help people.

"I'm just like old Harry Truman. I tell it like it is - `the buck stops here,'" he said. "If elected, I assure you, I'm just as close as your telephone. Action will be taken."

Some actions Morris said he would take if elected include improving facilities and fields for local Little Leagues.

Morris said he is against a new stadium for minor league baseball's Hagerstown Suns, when athletic facilities for the city's youths are in poor shape.

The Hagerstown native attended Hagerstown High School, but left in his senior year to join the U.S. Marines.

Morris said he served in World War II and the Korean War. He worked briefly for Fairchild Aircraft after World War II and retired from military life in 1972.

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