Groups line up for candidate forums

July 23, 1998

Bob MaginnisIt was Monday, shortly after 5 p.m., as I drove slowly toward the corner of West Franklin and Jonathan streets in downtown Hagerstown. Suddenly, from a parking place on the righthand side of the street, a car lurched out, almost broadsiding me.

I slammed on the brakes and looked at the driver, who, instead of acknowledging his error, hit the gas and sped ahead of me so he'd be at the head of the line when the light turned green.

The sticker from an Ivy League college on the rear window caught my eye, as did the license plate, on which I could find no state name. As I was looking for a pencil to jot down the number, he rolled down the window, turned toward me with a smirk and said, "Thank you" sarcastically.

Such behavior is just the sort of thing I warn my teen-aged sons against, and if you recognize your sandy-haired lad in this account, remind him that these days you can never tell what sort of nut might be provoked to violence by such actions.


Have you had a similar encounter with a rude or erratic driver? Tell me about it, in 100 words or less, by Thursday, July 30. I'll pay $20 for the best letter, which we'll try to reproduce here the first week in August.

Last week in this space I wrote about the dilemma facing Washington County voters - how to sort through the 29 candidates who've filed for County Commissioner to get five good people on the county board. Now, I'm happy to report, a few local organizations are pitching in by running forums and meet-the-candidate events.

- On Wednesday, August 5 at 7 p.m., the Landlords and Property Owners Association of Washington County, Inc., will hold a forum for all 29 county commissioner candidates in the second-floor meeting room of the W.D. Byron post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, located in downtown Hagerstown at 70 E. Washington St.

According to Nancy Bremmer, the group's secretary, each candidate will get three minutes to answer a few specific questions and make any comments they wish. At the end of that part of the forum, Bremmer said, the floor will be opened up for questions.

Bremmer said the group will also host forums for state-level candidates on Sept. 2 and Oct. 7, with more details on times and format to follow.

- On Thursday, August 13, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., a group called Women At The Table will hold a $15-a-person event at the Elks Picnic Grounds on Md. 63. According to Sharon Leatherman, one of the group's members, all candidates for local office, including the state senate and delegate candidates, have received an invitation and a ticket.

Leatherman said that the group might allow the candidates to set up tables where they can sit and pass out literature.

For a ticket, call (301) 733-2537, or order by mail from WATT, P.O. Box 2482, Hagerstown, Md., 21740.

WATT, which was profiled in April by The Herald-Mail's Laura Ernde, is seeking to boost women's participation in campaigns for elected office.

- On Saturday, August 15, from noon to 3 p.m., the Long Meadow Merchants Association will hold Candidates Day, according to Debra Hunt, the association's marketing director.

The event, which will be similar to one the group held in 1994, will feature candidates for office in the shopping center's center court, where there'll be able to set up tables, distribute their literature and talk to citizens.

- As we noted last week, the Hagerstown/Washington County Chamber of Commerce will hold two forums.

The first will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 7 a.m. and will feature candidates for County Commissioner, at the Venice Inn. The second forum, this one for state candidates, will be on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 7 a.m., at the Four-Points-Sheraton.

The dates and times had to be set prior to nailing down other details because of the need for Antietam Cable TV to schedule its crews before all available dates were filled up, according to Cindy Garland, Antietam's director of special projects.

Other callers this week and last suggested that the Democrats and Republicans might hold separate events, to provide interested citizens with smaller groups of candidates to scrutinize. If the parties have any information, I'll be glad to pass it along in this space.

And finally, Charlie Ditto of Ditto Electric stopped by to complain about something that happened when he made a collect call from a Chambersburg, Pa., phone booth to a client in Hagerstown's West End.

Ditto usually uses a calling card, but didn't have one that day and was startled when his client was charged almost $12 for a conversation that lasted only two minutes.

He complained, and they knocked three bucks off the charge, but the lesson here is that not every phone booth will give you bargain rates. To be safe, buy prepaid phone cards or get a calling card from one of the big phone companies.

Bob Maginnis is editor of The Herald-Mail's Opinion page.

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