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Saum-Wicklein says comments weren't endorsement for Sager

May 09, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

A Washington County Republican leader said her statements to a Baltimore Sun reporter regarding her support of Democratic Mayor Steven T. Sager were not an endorsement for his re-election.

"I said he's done a good job, which is not an out-and-out endorsement," said Hagerstown City Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein, who is chairwoman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee.

Saum-Wicklein declined to say whether she would endorse Sager or his GOP challenger Robert E. Bruchey II for mayor in the May 20 general election.

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She presented Bruchey with a $200 check from the central committee during the annual GOP Lincoln Dinner on April 25, officials said.

"I got a donation" from the central committee, Bruchey said. "Maybe she gave Mayor Sager a donation."

Sager said he did not receive a donation from Saum-Wicklein, nor did he make one to any of the council candidates' campaigns.

"I would be happy to point out that I have her campaign sign in my yard," Sager said. He said he endorses all three council incumbents - Saum-Wicklein and Democrats William Breichner and Lewis C. Metzner - in their bids for re-election.

"They know what they're doing and how to work as a group," Sager said.

"When we're in office, it's not exactly a partisan four years. Do I see a conflict? No. I think it's important to continue with folks that have demonstrated the knowledge, leadership and the commitment and the experience gained, and it's important who is added to the group," Sager said.

"The people are going to vote for who the people are going to vote for. People do vote across party lines," Bruchey said.

Republican Central Committee Vice Chairman Vince Dellaposta said he was alarmed at first when he read the front-page article in Wednesday's edition of The Sun.

The article, which focuses on downtown revitalization as a major issue in the upcoming mayoral election, states that Sager's supporters include Saum-Wicklein.

"Susan has a right as an individual to support whoever she wants to, but she doesn't have a right to use the central committee," Dellaposta said.

Dellaposta said he doesn't think Saum-Wicklein intended to endorse Sager when she was talking to the Sun reporter. Statements can be taken out of context, he said.

"I think that the ramifications from the committee will be that we will simply tell Susan to be very careful," he said.

Sager isn't the only candidate to cross party lines to endorse another candidate.

Council candidate Larry A. Vaughn, a Democrat, said he has had a Bruchey campaign sign in his yard since the March primary election. "I found the man to be very honest, forthright," said Vaughn.

The two challengers have taken similar stands on cracking down on the city's drug problems and putting a halt to redeveloping downtown properties with taxpayer money.

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