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Mayor may be first in almost a decade to finish term

February 26, 2002|By JULIE E. GREENE

Sharpsburg - Sid Gale didn't plan to run for mayor of Sharpsburg in 2000.

Now in his second year as mayor, Gale could become the first Sharpsburg mayor in almost a decade to serve a full term.

"Well, I'm certainly going to try," said Gale, 53.

Two of the town's last three mayors, George Kesler and Chris Yeager, resigned shortly before their first terms were to end. Ron Milburn, who became mayor upon Yeager's resignation, did not run for election.

Both Yeager and Milburn cited busy schedules in their decisions.

Gale became mayor in September 2000 after Kesler resigned for personal reasons just two months before the town election.

"It's hard to be mayor in any small town because of the paperwork. Everyone works a full-time job," Councilman Ralph Hammond said.

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Hammond said Gale was doing a "great job."

Approaching the November 2000 town election it was a job Gale wasn't sure he wanted just yet.

"Council members asked me several times to reconsider and run," Gale said.

The other two mayoral candidates lacked political experience.

"Whoever is mayor in a real small town where there are so many important issues related to outside influences should have worked in town government in some way to understand the issues," Gale said.

Gale, whose family moved from Gaithersburg, Md., to Sharpsburg in 1990, became involved in town politics in 1994 when he was elected to the Town Council.

He moved up quickly due to the mayoral resignations, being appointed vice mayor in 1997 and becoming mayor in September 2000.

"When you are in a town like Sharpsburg, we're really at the lowest form of government, almost to the point of being volunteer," Gale said.

There is no town administrator and no full-time town clerk.

Gale's job as director of physician practices for Antietam Health Services Inc. takes him away from the small southern Washington County town on weekdays.

Requests don't always get processed as quickly as people would like, Gale said.

Gale characterized his mayoral role so far as "caretaker." While there have been and will be bumps here or there, no significant issues have come up, he said.

Gale admitted he felt "stretched too thin" last summer with work, town and family obligations, but never seriously considered resigning like his predecessors.

He doesn't see himself becoming a lifetime mayor, either.

"I am interested in staying involved," Gale said.

While Gale isn't a native, he agrees with the local philosophy of keeping Sharpsburg a small, historic, rural village.

"It has an attraction and an appeal that you don't find in most places," said Gale, reflecting on his first visit to Sharpsburg.

"You want that for your hometown," Gale said. "You want that for the next generation also."

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