Two incumbents lose in county

November 04, 1998


By BRENDAN KIRBY / Staff Writer

Two out of the three Washington County Commissioners running for re-election went down to defeat Tuesday, and the full makeup of the five-member board will be determined by absentee ballots.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook captured 17,432 votes, making him the top vote-getter, according to complete but unofficial results.

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Democrat Paul L. Swartz, Republican William J. Wivell and Democrat John L. Schnebly finished second, third and fourth.

The fifth position will not be determined until absentee ballots are counted on Thursday.

Independent challenger Bert L. Iseminger Jr. finished fifth in Tuesday's balloting with 12,911 votes, 86 ahead of Democrat Susan T. Tuckwell. The outcome could be changed by absentee ballots.


There were 1,782 absentee ballots issued. That gives incumbent Democrat Ronald L. Bowers a mathematical chance to win a spot, but he would have to make up at least 229 votes. Bowers was shooting for an unprecedented sixth term.

"I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Whatever happens, happens," said Tuckwell, who was the top vote-getter in the Democratic primary in September.

For Iseminger, who changed his registration from Republican to Independent, this is the third race in which he will have to wait for absentee ballots to determine whether he wins an election.

Iseminger lost two close races for delegate against Democrat John P. Donoghue.

"I don't know what I've done to deserve this, but it's not a lot of fun," Iseminger said. "I think all through the campaign I heard from people - and I think all the candidates did - that people were looking for change."

That thirst for change appears to have struck down two incumbents. Bowers finished seventh with 12,682 votes and Republican John S. Shank placed last with 9,805 votes.

"The voters wanted a change - and they got it," Shank said. "That's fine with me. I can live with that."

Swartz, who finished first in the Democratic primary four years ago only to lose in the general election, placed second this time.

Swartz said he made an effort to work harder over the last six weeks than he did after the 1994 primary.

"I'm just ecstatic. I think the good Lord for giving me the strength, and my family, to get through this race," he said.

Political newcomer Wivell, who finished third in the GOP primary, placed third in the general election with 14,872 votes. The Allegheny Power accountant attributed his showing to hard work and lots of door-knocking.

Wivell distributed 20,000 brochures and picked up support from both business and organized labor.

"Obviously, I'm pleased with the finish. It looks like a strong third-place finish," he said.

Schnebly, a former Hagerstown City Council member, finished fourth in Tuesday's balloting with 14,340 votes. He said he heard a great deal of frustration over previous County Commissioners' decisions that led to a water and sewer debt that exceeded $50 million.

"Some of it's anger, but some of it's a realization that the decision to speculate on that excess capacity (of the county's wastewater treatment plant) has really put us in a hole," he said.

Snook, who coasted to his third election win, declined to interpret the results as a repudiation of incumbents who were on the board when crucial decisions were made regarding the construction of the Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant and Conococheague Industrial Pretreatment Facility.

Snook said it is difficult to figure out why voters vote the way they do.

"As a board, we tried to focus on issues as a board. I think people voted for who they thought could do the job," he said.

The final order of finish on Tuesday was:

- Snook, 41, with 17,432 votes.

- Swartz, 60, with 14,981 votes.

- Wivell, 34, with 14,872 votes.

- Schnebly, 48, with 14,340 votes.

- Iseminger, 49, with 12,911 votes.

- Tuckwell, 47, with 12,825 votes.

- Bowers, 55, with 11,943 votes.

- Republican Mary L. Kline, 61, with 11,473 votes.

- Republican John P. Corderman, 56, with 11,081 votes.

- Democrat Linda C. Irvin-Craig, 55, with 11,046 votes.

- Shank, 66, with 11,081 votes.

Eugene "Buddie" Morris, who was defeated in the Democratic primary, ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign on Tuesday.

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