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Primary may get out the vote

March 13, 2001

Primary may get out the vote



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown voters go to the polls today to decide which candidates will move on to the May general election.

Voter turnout for today's primary should be higher than for recent primaries because there are more candidates and more contested races this year, said Dorothy Kaetzel, election director at the Washington County Election Board.

"Last primary there was 10 percent voter turnout. This may be 25 percent because there's more to vote on," Kaetzel said.

The 1997 primary had elections for Democratic and Republican mayoral candidates, but there were not enough candidates to require primaries for the City Council races. Only 1,538 of the 14,726 registered voters went to the polls for the 1997 city primary.

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Almost 13 percent of city voters cast ballots in the 1993 city primary election, Kaetzel said.

In 1993, there were primaries for Democratic mayoral candidates and Republican and Democratic council candidates.

This year's primary ballots list 18 candidates - two Democratic mayoral candidates, seven Republican council candidates and nine Democratic council candidates.

The top five votegetters in each party's council primary win a spot on the city's May 15 general election ballot, as does one mayoral candidate from each party.

Only city voters who are registered Democrats or Republicans can vote in the primary. Voters may vote for up to five council candidates.

According to Election Board records, 15,454 voters are eligible to cast ballots in this year's primary. That includes 8,652 Democrats and 6,802 Republicans, according to Election Board records.

The Republican primary ballot lists the following city council candidates: Victoria K. Bodnar, Alfred W. Boyer, Richard G. Everhart, Carol N. Moller, Michael E. Nehring, Paul H. Toothman and Steve Zaks.

Because incumbent Robert E. Bruchey II is unopposed in the Republican primary for mayor, his name is not on the primary ballot. It will be on the city's May general election ballot.

The Democratic primary ballot lists the following candidates for mayor: William M. Breichner and Eugene E. Morris. City council candidates are Kristin B. Aleshire, N. Linn Hendershot, Ira P. Kauffman Jr., Lewis C. Metzner, Penny May Nigh, Steven T. Sager and Larry A. Vaughn.

The names of John A. Budesky and Brian E. Coss are on the ballot as Democratic council candidates, but both have said they would refuse a spot on the general election ballot. Both men withdrew from the race after learning they come under the provisions of the federal Hatch Act, which prohibits most government employees from running in partisan elections.

Democratic council candidate Sager says he is awaiting an opinion from the State Ethics Commission on whether his job with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development creates an unavoidable conflict with the duties of a council member.

Sager said the commission ruling won't come until after the primary.

A successful primary candidate who is unable to run in the general election is replaced by his or her party's central committee, according to the City Charter.

The city's 13 polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.

For more information, contact the Election Board at 301-791-3030.

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