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Voters pick candidates in city primary

March 14, 2001

Voters pick candidates in city primary



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

Photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer


Kristin B. AleshireHagerstown City Councilman William M. Breichner won the city's Democratic mayoral primary by a landslide, and absentee ballots could determine the final two council candidates who will run in the May 15 general election, according to unofficial vote totals released late Tuesday.

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More than 1,700 city Democrats and Republicans went to the polls Tuesday to select five City Council candidates each for the May 15 general election.

Democrats also chose a mayoral candidate.

There was no Republican mayoral primary because Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II was the only Republican seeking the office.

In the Democratic mayoral primary, Breichner beat rival Eugene E. "Buddie" Morris by more than a 3-to-1 margin, receiving 740 votes to Morris' 226, according to complete but unofficial figures released by the Washington County Election Board.

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Four Democrats and four Republicans secured spots on the general election ballot, but fifth place in each party's primary could be determined by absentee ballots, which will be counted Thursday.

The top four vote-getters in the Democratic council primary were Penny May Nigh, incumbent Lewis C. Metzner, Kristin B. Aleshire and Steven T. Sager.

N. Linn Hendershot was the fifth-highest vote-getter in the Democratic council primary with 476 votes. Hendershot leads fellow Democratic council candidates Ira P. Kauffman Jr. by 21 votes and Larry A Vaughn by 43 votes.

There were 56 absentee ballots issued to Democrats before the primary. As of Tuesday, 52 had been returned to the Washington County Election Board. Absentee ballots received today and postmarked no later than Monday will be counted.

The top four vote-getters in the Republican council primary were Carol N. Moller, Victoria K. Bodnar, incumbent Alfred W. Boyer and Richard G. Everhart.

Michael E. Nehring came in fifth in the Republican council primary with 353 votes, 40 votes ahead of fellow Republican council candidate Paul H. Toothman. Of the 42 absentee ballots issued to city Republicans, 40 had been returned as of Tuesday.

"It's close but it doesn't look good. Absentee ballots usually follow the same trend" as regularly cast ballots, said Toothman, who was at the Election Board office Tuesday night to hear the results.

Republican council candidate Steve Zaks ran seventh with 292 votes.

Aleshire, who came in third in the Democratic council primary, was also at the Election Board office Tuesday night. Aleshire said he was "definitely glad" with the outcome.

John A. Budesky and Brian E. Coss, the Democratic council candidates who withdrew from the race after learning they come under the provisions of the federal Hatch Act, ran far behind the rest of the Democrats.

The Hatch Act prohibits government employees from being candidates in partisan elections if their jobs are funded with any federal dollars, if they supervise people in federally funded positions, or if they oversee the spending of federal money.

As executive director of the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families, Budesky oversees the spending of some federal funds. Budesky received 190 votes.

Coss is a state Department of Social Services employee whose position is funded in part with federal money. Coss received 225 votes.

Democratic council candidate Sager received 537 votes - enough to secure a spot on the general election ballot even though he may have to withdraw from the election.

Sager 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 has said the commission ruling won't come for at least a week.

According to the City Charter, a successful primary candidate who is unable to run in the general election is replaced on the general election ballot by a candidate selected by his or her party's central committee.

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