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Irvin-Craig seeking to regain county office

June 17, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Four years after she was voted out of office, Democrat Linda C. Irvin-Craig is running again for Washington County commissioner.

"I was raised for public service," the two-term former commissioner said Wednesday.

"I care and I want to serve. It's that basic."

Irvin-Craig, 54, said she didn't plan to return to politics until she started getting calls from past supporters, educators, county employees and strangers urging her to enter the race.

She said her campaign would address the county's sewer woes, education, emergency services and the problems of older citizens.

"I own a part of the sewer problem," Irvin-Craig acknowledged.

"I want assurance that everything that can be done to resolve it is done," she said.

Irvin-Craig said that she attempted to address the impending financial crisis in 1994, but was met with denial by her colleagues and was ignored by the media.

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She said that for her, the sewer issue was never just about dollars and cents. She said the county's multimillion-dollar annual general fund subsidies of water and sewer shouldn't be called subsidies but rather an "investment in public health."

Everyone benefits, not just ratepayers, from sewers, she said.

"We knew there was a risk that the money wouldn't be there ... but I felt that the possible problems were far worse than being short of money," she said.

"But that is the past and the real issue is, 'Where do we go from here?'"

Irvin-Craig said that she wants to form a team that will deal with future water and sewer needs and bring together the city, county and state to solve the problems.

She also said that she wants to lower class sizes, and make sure that teachers' salaries are competitive with nearby counties.

Other issues on which Irvin-Craig said she will focus include planning and economic development.

She said she supports impact fees on new development as an additional source of needed revenue.

She said that she doesn't think there is much fat among the county staff to be cut. "Everyone would like to believe that," she said.

In 1986, Irvin-Craig was the first woman to be elected as a county commissioner in Washington County. She served two terms before losing in the 1994 election.

Irvin-Craig also served a term on the Washington County Board of Education, from 1982 to 1986. In 1986, she was school board president.

She serves as president of the board of directors of Children's Village of Washington County, and is involved with Leadership Hagerstown and Crime Solvers.

Commissioner candidates have until July 6 to file. The primary election is Sept. 15 and the general election is Nov. 3.

The job pays $20,000 a year.

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