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Breichner's victory verified with absentee vote count

May 18, 2001

Breichner's victory verified with absentee vote count



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

After falling 68 votes short of William M. Breichner's total in his bid for re-election, Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II is considering a return to politics in 2002.

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Absentee ballots counted Thursday secured victory for Breichner, a City Councilman for the past 12 years and the Democratic candidate for mayor.

"There's an election in 18 months. I'll have to decide sometime before that whether or not to seek office. ... I still feel I have more to give to the citizens of Hagerstown and Washington County," Bruchey, a Republican, said Thursday.

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"I'm leaving all my options open," Bruchey said when asked whether he might run for a county, state or federal office.

Breichner said he's looking forward to an "easy transition." He said he will meet with the city's boards and commissions, and work on developing a good relationship with the new council.

The absentee ballots also reaffirmed the outcome of Tuesday's council election, with four Democrats and one Republican elected to the five-member council.

Only the fifth spot on the council could have been affected by the 110 absentee ballots counted Thursday.

Democrat Kristin B. Aleshire ran fifth in Tuesday's council election, and held a 79-vote lead over Republican Victoria K. Bodnar. After the absentee count, Aleshire's lead over Bodnar was 77 votes.

Joining Aleshire on the council will be Democrats Penny May Nigh, N. Linn Hendershot, and incumbent Lewis C. Metzner, and Republican Carol N. Moller.

Breichner and the new council are scheduled to be sworn in for four-year terms on May 28.

According to election results certified Thursday by the Hagerstown Board of Election Supervisors, in the race for mayor Breichner received 1,577 votes, or 50.6 percent; and Bruchey received 1,509 votes, or 48.4 percent.

Before the absentee ballots were counted, Breichner held a 44-vote lead over Bruchey. In the final count, Breichner extended his margin of victory to 68 votes.

"I feel very good at this point knowing it's over and we've been successful," Breichner said after watching the count of absentee ballots, which was overseen by the city's election supervisors.

Bruchey said the outcome was not a surprise because absentee votes generally follow voting trends set at the polling places.

"Congratulations to Bill. I'm sure he'll do the best he can for the city," Bruchey said.

Of the 124 absentee ballots sent out for the city election, 112 were returned. The election supervisors disqualified two absentee ballots, one that was postmarked after the Monday deadline and one that did not include a signature.

Democrat Eugene E. "Buddie" Morris, who filed as a mayoral write-in candidate for the general election after losing to Breichner in the primary, received 27 of the 31 write-in votes, according to election supervisors' figures.

It was not known for whom the other four write-in votes were cast because election supervisors count only write-in votes for those who had filed as write-in candidates.

With the win, Breichner, 69, will add mayor to the list of titles he's held with the City of Hagerstown.

Breichner began his career with the city in 1956, going to work as a draftsman in the Water Department. Over the next 31 years, Breichner rose through the ranks to head the Water Department and become the city's first city administrator. He resigned in 1987, but he returned to City Hall two years later as a councilman. He has been re-elected twice.

During the campaign, Breichner highlighted his extensive experience in city government, and called for establishing tax incentives to encourage property renovations.

Bruchey, 42, ran a campaign similar to the one that won him the mayor's office four years ago, going door-to-door with his crime-fighting and economic development platform.

The one-term mayor promised to again push for a "zero tolerance" crime-fighting policy, that would focus on less serious crimes such as littering and loitering as a way to prevent serious crimes.

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