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Let bygones by bygones

September 07, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Coming clean seems to be as admirable a quality for politicians as being clean, according to an informal survey Saturday of Tri-State area residents.

The question asked residents contacted randomly was: "Should politicians be forced to answer questions about their youthful drug use and other indiscretions?"

Opinions were mixed.

"I think a man deserves a lot of credit for having quit it," said Evelyn Brown, referring to news stories about youthful drug experimentation.

Brown, 88, took time out from making the rounds of yard sales in Martinsburg, W.Va., to speak her mind on the subject.

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"The way they tear up these politicians is a shame," she said. "But lying is the worst they can do because God knows."

Glenda Rudisill doesn't think what a person does in his or her youth should have to haunt them.

"As long as it's not continued into their 30s and 40s, then I say forgive and forget," said the 60-year-old Hagerstown resident.

Telling the truth is the most important quality for a politician in Gloria Taylor's opinion.

"When it is something they did as a kid, I wouldn't hold it against them," the 65-year-old Hancock woman said. "I think their honesty is more important and that's hard to find in a politician."

Richard Stitely, 57, also admires honesty in a politician but he has an even better idea for keeping politicians accountable. "Two terms and they're out . . .I'm a firm believer in that," said the Martinsburg man.

Stitely said people should be allowed to be forgiven for any wrongdoing in their pasts.

Wendy Lanciano, 24, of Martinsburg, said politicians should always be aware that they are role models for the younger generation.

"It's good that they come clean about their pasts," she said.

While some might tend to rule out a candidate with an indiscretion in his youth, Beverly Lane said she doesn't think that should be a rule but rather a guideline.

"I think they should all tell the truth if questioned about it," said Lane, 61, of Martinsburg.

The Rev. Jim Hamby, 48, of Hagerstown, said he's not sure whether politicians should have to tell all.

"But it would help their integrity if they would say it before it's disclosed by the media," Hamby said.

Ray Lanciano, 34, of Martinsburg, agreed that no matter how well hidden someone's secret history might be, eventually it will come out.

"It is a good thing that they were truthful from the start," Lanciano said about those who have made disclosures.

Marie Butts, 78, of Martinsburg, believes in being vigilant when it comes to public servants.

"It's OK as long as they aren't doing it now," Butts said. "But we've got to keep our eye on them."

Shady Grove, Pa., resident Mary Mayhugh said she doesn't believe politicians should be judged by acts committed before they took elected office.

"But if they lie about it, that's different. I don't go for lying," said Mayhugh, 66.

Vivian Sensel, 63, of Hagerstown, said she feels politicians should always be truthful. "It would make them look really bad if it comes out later and they lied about it," she said.

Marcia Jenkins, 50, of Hagerstown, has a pragmatic view of politicians. "I'm looking at what they can do for me now," she said. "What they did in the past is in the past."

Stephen Beck, 49, of Waynesboro, Pa., said he doesn't think politicians should have to tell all.

"Their private lives should be private, especially if it happened more than 15 years ago," Beck said.

Clear Spring resident Douglas McAllister said he is torn by the whole situation.

"I wouldn't rule him out (for not telling), but I wouldn't admire him for telling either," said McAllister, 55. "I really don't think it's important what they did in their youth."

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