We named good people. We also omitted candidates we named four years ago. You might consider come results curious. We included, for example, people who oppose building a new baseball stadium - a project we strongly support. We also included incumbents with whom we sometimes strongly disagree. No one applies a litmus test to any single issue. We bent over backwards to be fair.
Just last week, we released the results of a second poll. This time our members named the candidates they believed are "strong business supporters." The results were surprising, too, and different from the committee's recommendations. This led to questions such as "Which survey is official?" (the committee's). Or "Where does the chamber stand?" (Ibid) People also asked:
Q. Why two surveys?
A. We wanted to learn how the views of our members and the views of the committee might differ. We released both results because data like this is useful in an election year. We hope we informed you.
Q. Why didn't you simply "endorse" a slate, say, name the five people you want in the commissioners' office in the next four years?
A. Because based on our research, most of those running probably would represent most of our interests just fine. The race for County Commissioner features 11 philosophically similar candidates. Naming seven was difficult to do and hard to defend.
Q. Why did the committee not name candidates who arguably hold pro-business views?
A. That was a judgment call. In reading candidates' answers, we found some more thoughtful than others. Some were more passionate or direct. Past voting records, as well as public statements, helped and hurt. Candidates who seemed to "spin" their answers did worse. Our process resembled a pole vault. Those who cleared the bar made the list.
Even if you disagree with the candidates we named, I hope now that you understand our process. We could do better. I hope we will. What do you think about the coming elections? Let everybody know. Vote!
Fred Teeter Jr.
Executive Vice President
Chamber of Commerce
To the editor:
The second anniversary of welfare reform is being marked this October in Washington County. Many people are aware of the dramatic reductions in welfare rolls in Maryland and across the nation. However, far fewer appreciate the enormous efforts which have been made by the local Department of Social Services, in conjunction with other organizations, such as Hagerstown Community College and the Department of Labor.
In studying welfare reform in the Tri-State area over the last year, I have struck by the dedication of the front-line staff and creativity of public administrators commissioned to implement this revolutionary social reform. Much has been done to assist people in forging better lives for themselves and their children through the dignity of work. Yet if the efforts begun are to result in a decent standard of living for those at the bottom of the economic ladder, additional resources are needed.
The involvement of business and community leaders is crucial in expanding employment opportunities and helping to solve transportation problems. As time limits on benefits expire and pressure increases on public agencies to meet work participation quotas, public welfare reform should be embraced as a public issue for which many sectors of the community share responsibility in order to ensure its success.
Involve people in the process
By Bert Iseminger
The citizens of Washington County can thank The Herald-Mail, WJEJ, WHAG, Antietam Cable and the many organizations that sponsored public forums for providing outstanding access to the candidates running for local public office.
Through these media, citizens have gained insight into positions taken by candidates on many of the important issues facing our county.