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Nigh is top vote-getter in City Council race

May 16, 2001

Nigh is top vote-getter in City Council race



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

Only one familiar face will return to Hagerstown's City Council, as voters re-elected Democrat Lewis C. Metzner but denied Republican Alfred W. Boyer a second term.

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Political newcomer Penny May Nigh, a Democrat who said she was driven to run by fears of a rising crime problem, led all candidates with 1,814 votes Tuesday.

Joining Metzner and Nigh on the council will be Republican Carol N. Moller, Democrat N. Linn Hendershot, and either Democrat Kristin B. Aleshire or Republican Victoria K. Bodnar, according to complete but unofficial vote totals released by the Washington County Election Board Tuesday night.

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Aleshire was leading Bodnar by 79 votes in the race for the fifth and final spot on the council, but at least 111 absentee ballots remain to be counted.

Bodnar predicted the absentee ballots would not move her ahead of Aleshire.

The Washington County Election Board sent out 124 absentee ballots and had received 111 back by Tuesday. Absentee ballots postmarked prior to Tuesday and received today will also be counted, said Election Board Director Dorothy Kaetzel.

Absentee ballots will be counted Thursday morning, Kaetzel said.

With 86 more votes than the next closest candidate and hundreds more than the rest of the candidates, Nigh said she was "hoping people related to my issue. I hope that people do realize that we have a crime problem."

She said she wants the city to hire more police officers and provide more money to the police department.

According to Election Board figures:

- Moller, a longtime volunteer in the community and former downtown business owner, was in second place with 1,728 votes.

"I'm really honored. ... It looks like we have a great group to work with," Moller said.

- Metzner was third with 1,483 votes. Metzner ran a money-free campaign, and has been a vocal supporter of a city subsidy for Community Rescue Service, the financially troubled private ambulance company serving most of Hagerstown and parts of the surrounding area.

- Hendershot ran fourth with 1,480. He has called for the creation of a management team to oversee the scheduling of activities at the city's new Fairgrounds Park.

- Aleshire, who has promised to give away his $8,000 a year council salary, probably to college scholarships for city residents, received 1,424 votes. Aleshire's vote total put him in fifth place, pending the counting of absentee ballots.

"All I can do is hope that it holds," Aleshire said.

Bodnar received 1,345, enough for sixth and a shot at fifth place depending on the results of the absentee ballots.

The top five vote-getters will be sworn in May 28 for four-year council terms.

Boyer, a one-term councilman, came in seventh with 1,185 votes.

"The people have spoken. I'm going to do anything to help a new administration," he said.

Of the current group of council members, Boyer was the most vocal supporter of city funding for a new minor league baseball stadium, but Boyer said that probably didn't affect the outcome of the election.

"I think it's just citizens saying they want new leadership," Boyer said.

Democrat Ira P. Kauffman Jr., a City Councilman from 1977 to 1981, came in eighth with 1,133 votes.

Kauffman, a late entry in the general election race, replaced Democrat Steven T. Sager on the ballot about two weeks before the election.

Sager dropped out of the race because the State Ethics Commission said there was a potential conflict of interest between his state job and the duties of a City Council member. Sager is a regional representative in the Division of Neighborhood Revitalization for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Sager had requested the ruling.

Republican Michael E. Nehring received 1,009 votes Tuesday.

Republican Richard G. Everhart rounded out the field with 978 votes.

There were 15 write-in votes for council.

Current council members Susan Saum-Wicklein and J. Wallace McClure did not seek re-election.

Councilman William M. Breichner ran for mayor against Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

As of Tuesday night Breichner narrowly led Bruchey, in race to be determined by absentee ballots.

Not counting absentee votes, Breichner had 1,511 votes to Bruchey's 1,467 votes.

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