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Saum-Wicklein drops out of race

February 05, 2001

Saum-Wicklein drops out of race



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


Hagerstown City Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein ended her run for re-election Monday, saying her energy and enthusiasm to serve another four years "is not what the citizens should expect."

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Saum-Wicklein said her reasons for withdrawing from the election "are personal and not for public consumption. ... I want my private life back."

Her decision surprised fellow council members who praised Saum-Wicklein for her knowledge and experience.

Saum-Wicklein's withdrawal ensures there will be majority of new City Council members voted into office. Only two of the five incumbents are seeking re-election to the five-member board.

Saum-Wicklein, 48, formally withdrew as a council candidate Monday afternoon, which was the deadline for candidates to remove their names from the ballot and 10 days after she filed for re-election.

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"I had a great deal of reservations about filing to begin with. I did not file until the afternoon of the deadline," she said.

"I was influenced by a lot of people calling in the final days. They were strong in their belief that I should run and I was influenced by the generosity of their support. When in my heart I had reservations.

"My priorities are not what they were 4 years ago, or 8 years ago, or 12 years ago .... I could not do the job with the focus that the citizens deserve," she said.

Saum-Wicklein, who was first sworn into office in 1989, said she discussed the situation with her family and thought a lot about her decision. She wouldn't preclude a future run for public office.

"This race, at this time, it doesn't fit in with my priorities," she said.

"I want my private life back. The print media has been invasive on matters totally inappropriate and nonreflective of my responsibilities as an elected official," Saum-Wicklein said.

In recent years, several stories have run based on state and court records about the legal and financial problems of Saum-Wicklein and her family's business, now known as The Jeweler's Daughter.

Those stories reported on matters including court judgments for falling behind on federal, state and local taxes, operating without a required business license for at least 27 years, and a lawsuit filed by creditors.

She said other factors in her decision were personal. She refused to elaborate.

The other four council members said they were surprised by Saum-Wicklein's withdrawal from the election.

"You're surprised anytime someone withdraws from an election at this time," Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said.

"Susan's been very devoted to the city. I understand there's only so many years one can continue to do things and get the public scrutiny she did," Metzner said.

Metzner said Saum-Wicklein's withdrawal presents an "interesting scenario" for the city.

"We're guaranteed a majority of new people on the council," he said.

"I thought Susan was extremely capable of handling matters that came before City Council," said Councilman William M. Breichner.

"I'm certainly disappointed to lose someone of her experience," said Breichner, who has served on the council with Saum-Wicklein since 1989.

Breichner is not running for re-election to the council, and is instead running for mayor. He faces fellow Democratic candidate Eugene E. "Buddie" Morris in the March 13 primary election.

"After 12 years it's easy to get worn out," said Councilman J. Wallace McClure, who is also not seeking re-election.

"She's been a true asset to that council. ... I respect her highly for the way she addressed and came up with ideas to address every issue," McClure said.

McClure said that with Breichner and now Saum-Wicklein not seeking re-election, the council is losing its two senior members and with them "a lot of knowledge."

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said, "Susan brought a lot of experience and expertise to the council and she'll be missed."

The city's general election is May 15. The new City Council takes office May 28.

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