Small turnout expected for city primary

March 10, 1997


Staff Writer

Hagerstown voters go the polls today to decide which candidates will vie for the job of mayor in the May general election.

Fewer than 1,500 voters, or 10 percent of Hagerstown's registered voters, are expected to cast ballots in the primary election, said Dorothy Kaetzel, election director for the Supervisors of Elections for Washington County.

Voter turnout was 13 percent in the city's 1993 primary election, Kaetzel said.

She said she expects today's turnout to be even lower because the mayor's race is the only one for which both Democratic and Republican primaries were needed.


The primary election ballot does not include the nine candidates running for five City Council seats that will be up for grabs in the May 20 general election because there weren't more than five candidates from each party.

In 1993, a Democratic primary was held in the mayoral race and both Democratic and GOP primaries were held for the City Council contest.

Kaetzel said another reason she expects turnout to be light is that there hasn't been much visible campaigning by the six mayoral candidates.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Of the 14,726 voters eligible to cast ballots in the primary election, 8,379 are Democrats and 6,347 are Republicans, according to the election board.

Democratic candidates for mayor are:

  • Incumbent Steven T. Sager, 43, of 809 Dewey Ave. Sager is seeking an unprecedented fourth four-year term. He has been mayor since 1985.
  • Challenger Don Allensworth, 62, of 1732 Edgewood Hill Circle. This will be Allensworth's third run for the mayoral post. He also has run unsuccessfully for Washington County Commissioner, Maryland Senate, U.S. Senate, governor of Maryland and U.S. president.

Republican candidates for the mayoral post are:

  • Republican Bob Bruchey, 38, of 905 Woodland Way. Bruchey retired in 1994, after 13 years as a correctional officer for the state of Maryland, because of a disability. He works for Primerica Financial Services and Hoffman Chevrolet-Geo.
  • Republican Dennis Duffey, 47, of 1100 Kuhn Ave. Duffey is a production line operator at Corning Glass in Greencastle, Pa. He ran unsuccessfully for a Washington County Commissioner's seat in 1994.
  • Republican Leon Fearnow, 55, of 627 N. Mulberry St. This is Fearnow's second run for mayor. The retired city police officer works at Boat America Corp.
  • Republican Joseph Walker, 76, of 208 W. Irvin Ave. Walker worked in the aerospace industry for 30 years and was the city's purchasing agent in the early 1970s.

The winner of the mayoral race in the general election will be paid $28,000 annually, a $4,000 increase over the current salary.

Emergency absentee ballots may be filed through election day. Residents may call the election board's office at 791-3030 for more information about absentee ballots.

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