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After the victory party...

May 22, 1997

Congratulations to Mayor-elect Bob Bruchey and those who were elected to the Hagerstown City Council this past Tuesday. It seems clear now that the voters provided victories to those who went out and worked hard on the campaign trail.

With a turnout of less than 30 percent, it would be foolish for anyone to claim a strong mandate from the voters. We've heard the low turnout interpreted both ways - as voters' conclusion that things were all right and they didn't need to bother to vote, or that voters were so disillusioned with city government that they didn't bother to go to the polls.

Nevertheless, the low turnout does demand some action. None of the candidates, as far as we can determine, held any press conferences, and none of the three candidate forums we were aware of was televised.

That gave voters little exposure to the people who wanted to be in charge of spending their tax dollars. A revitalized chapter of the League of Women Voters is desperately needed to run such forums, both before and after the primaries and to arrange for them to be televised.

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The organization known as Kids Voting should also be approached about the possibility of bringing its campaign to generate interest in voting among students (and their parents) to city schools during the next municipal election campaign. There's plenty of time now to plan such an effort and find sponsors for it.

As for the victors, we'd like to see them re-invigorate the tradition of appointing some of those who sought political office unsuccessfully to citizen boards and committees. Viewed from the outside, the city's business can seem simple and uncomplicated. The would-be council members who didn't make it still deserve the chance that so many other citizens have had - to see how difficult it is to govern.

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