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Ex-mayor seeks council seat

January 26, 2001

Ex-mayor seeks council seat



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


Former Hagerstown Mayor Steven T. Sager filed Friday as a Democratic candidate for City Council, but may drop out of the race depending on the State Ethics Commission's opinion.

The question facing the commission is whether Sager should continue working for the state if he's elected to the council.

Sager is the regional manager of the Western Maryland customer service office for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. In his job, Sager said he sometimes represents the department to the city.

Sager said the Ethics Commission informally reviewed his case Thursday and determined there is a conflict, but Sager thinks he can allay the commission's concerns. He said the commission will formally review his situation in February.

"If elected, some aspects of my job would have to be adjusted ... to make sure that I don't position myself in a position of conflict," Sager said.

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He said if elected to council, he would have to "trade" work responsibilities related to "Hagerstown and maybe all of Washington County" with someone else in his department. Sager said his supervisors are OK with that situation.

Sager says he wants to keep his state job, and will only serve on the council if he can hold both positions.

Even if the duties of his state job change, Sager said he would still leave council meetings for discussions and votes on issues involving his department.

Sager said that in a typical year there are few issues involving his department. For example, Sager said he would have to excuse himself from deliberations on matters involving the Maryland Historical Trust because the trust is an agency of his department.

Sager noted there were already six Democratic council candidates, which is the minimum number needed for there to be a primary. Because of that he was comfortable filing Friday even though the Ethics Commission hasn't approved of his candidacy.

"I didn't want to trigger a primary and then drop out," he said.

Earlier this month, Sager said the Maryland Attorney General's Office told him it was OK to run for council.

Sager said he wants to be on the council because, "I enjoyed it while I was there and I miss it. And I feel I have something to offer and I want to offer it."

Sager said he's running for council instead of mayor because he feels the mayor's position is a full-time job, and he wouldn't have time to be mayor and keep his state job.

Sager, 47, was mayor for 12 years from 1985 until 1997, when he lost the election to Robert E. Bruchey II, a Republican who is seeking re-election.

Sager, a Democrat, said he would have no problem working with Bruchey. He said Bruchey was one of the people who encouraged him to run.

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