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Too many candidates, too few issues

September 06, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Despite a Sept. 15 primary election that drew 28 Republican and Democratic candidates for five Washington County Commissioner seats, several county residents said Saturday there wasn't an overriding issue driving them to the polls.

Karen Manning, 25, of Maugansville Road, said she is upset about paying high county water and sewer rates but still isn't planning to vote in the primary.

Manning said she didn't know what it would take to get her to vote.

Stephen Gudd, 54, of Hagerstown, said he's never voted, isn't registered to vote and, therefore, doesn't plan to vote.

"I stay out of politics and religion," Gudd said. He said there's nothing the commissioners or Washington County Board of Education has done to motivate him to go to the polls.

Gary Minnich, 46, of Williamsport, said nothing could get him to register to vote.

Gudd and Minnich were among nine people who said Saturday they weren't going to vote. Of the people informally polled by The Herald-Mail on Saturday, 18 said they would vote and four people didn't know.

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Jeremy Keckler, 20, of Hagerstown's West End, said he doesn't know whether he'll feel like voting until Election Day.

Charlie Weller, 30, of the West End, said he works 12- to 16-hour days and doesn't have time to pay attention to politics or to vote.

Dick Miller, 67, of Williamsport, said he will vote even though he's not interested in any particular issue.

"My wife drags me anyway," he said.

Others had plenty of reasons to vote.

Tom Likely, 27, of Liberty Street, said he wants to vote because he thinks the commissioners and school board members have misused taxpayers' money.

"I have three kids in the school (system) so I have a great deal to think about," said Likely, whose children attend Pangborn Elementary.

Likely said he doesn't normally vote in local elections, but local politicians need to be held accountable.

"I know it's a hard job, but when you live in a community, you want the best for it," he said.

Phyllis and Ed Harp, of Burnside Avenue in Halfway, said they want to vote, but need to know more about the commissioner candidates.

"My problem is, I don't know who to vote for," said Phyllis Harp, who is retired.

Their son, Jeff Harp, 42, of Burnside Avenue, said in the past few years, his family has gotten "screwed" on their county sewer bill, and county officials are considering raising rates again.

"It's hard to say who to vote for. You don't want to vote for who's in there now, that's for sure," Harp said.

Fred Barrett, 39, who lives in Maugansville's Gardenspot development, said the only way to bring about change is to take part in local government.

Barrett, who has two young children, said he is most interested in the school board and commissioner races.

While he has a septic sewer system now, Barrett said he doesn't want to worry about high sewer costs if he needs to switch to public sewer.

Mark Mitchell, 25, of Randolph Avenue in Hagerstown, said while he isn't paying those high water and sewer bills, his family in the Maugansville area is.

Mitchell said he intends to vote but is still learning about all the candidates.

Adrena Sheppard, 51, of the Keedysville area, said somebody made a mistake for county water and sewer bills to be so high, but she won't cast her votes based on one issue.

Judy Keener, 50, of Maugansville, said high utility rates will affect her voting decisions. She said she has more research to do to know whether she'll support the incumbents.

Dennis Martin, 51, of Maugansville, said he will be more interested in the commissioner race when the field has been narrowed after the primary.

Martin said he wants to make school board members accountable. "Throwing money at the problem is not going to make Johnny smarter," he said.

The board spending $5,000 to hire a convocation speaker for teachers and other employees was "a slap in my face," Martin said. Martin said he was especially upset with that expense because the speaker used to work for the Washington, D.C., school system, which has its own troubles.

Martin said he was glad Hagerstown and county officials haven't bought the deteriorating roundhouse complex, which is in danger of being razed.

"If it's needed, let private enterprise do it," he said.

Toni Webb, 42, of Cearfoss, said she is taking her child to the polls and plans to get the Democrats out of office.

Webb said she will vote for the school board candidates who want to improve pay for teachers and not administrators.

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