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McElroy seeks county office

June 04, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

A Hagerstown Republican with close ties to Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II has entered the increasingly crowded race for Washington County Commissioner.

John P. McElroy, who was Bruchey's campaign treasurer last year, said he wanted to turn around a range of problems facing the county.

"Enough is enough," he said. "I've sat back and watched this county go in the wrong direction I'm just an average Joe. I'm not anybody extraordinary. But I know people like me are sick of politics."

McElroy, 29, who lives on St. Clair Street, criticized the commissioners' handling of water and sewer debt and said they have not done enough to promote tourism.

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McElroy said using money from the county's general fund to help pay off the debt probably is unavoidable in the short term. But he said it is not a comprehensive solution.

Although he was not ready to provide details, McElroy said he is working on a plan.

"I can solve that problem without raising taxes," he said.

It is part of a larger philosophy McElroy said he gained from his father. Many people forget the second part of the saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way," he said.

"When we cannot find a way, we'll create one," McElroy said.

McElroy, who manages a Staples store in Frederick, Md., said whatever ails the county, taxes are not the solution.

"If we don't have the money, we don't spend it," he said.

The same goes for education, McElroy said. He said he opposes raising taxes to reduce class sizes or raise teachers' salaries. Both can be accomplished through a more streamlined budget, he said.

McElroy said the entire budget needs to be reworked, although he added that he is reluctant to cite specific examples without a comprehensive review.

McElroy said the county should sponsor more events like this weekend's Western Maryland Blues Fest to attract visitors.

"We're extremely missing the boat on tourism here," he said.

On economic development, McElroy said he opposes offering tax breaks to lure new businesses. Such incentives penalize businesses already in the county, he said.

Many of the county's problems can be solved through better cooperation with Hagerstown officials, he said.

"It's better than it was. But it's still not good enough," he said.

McElroy, a single father of a 5-year-old son, graduated from North Hagerstown High School and attended Hagerstown Junior College.

He joins a field that includes eight Republicans. Six Democrats also have filed to run.

Candidates have until July 6 to file for the $20,000-per-year job. The primary is Sept. 15.

Candidates who win the nomination of their parties in the primary will run in the Nov. 3 general election.

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