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Growth important issue for Jefferson candidates

May 06, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

At the top of many of the Jefferson County Commission candidates' lists is how to deal with population growth in the county.

The Kabletown district seat and the Harpers Ferry district seat are up for grabs in the May 14 primary election.

Three Democrats and one Republican are running for the Kabletown district seat. Two Republicans and three Democrats are running for the Harpers Ferry district seat. The top vote-getter from each party will advance to the general election on Nov. 5.

Because Rusty Morgan is the only candidate running for the Republican nomination to the Kabletown district seat, he will automatically advance to the Nov. 5 election.

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The races are countywide. The annual salary of a commissioner is $27,500. The candidates are:

n G. Warren Mickey, 63, Democratic candidate for the Kabletown seat, said his idea of good residential growth is one of "structured growth," where development would be controlled to allow services like schools, water service and sewer service to keep up.

Stopping growth doesn't make sense because too many people make a living from the construction business, said Mickey, 373 Roper North Fork Road, Charles Town.

Mickey, a beef cattle farmer, believes the commissioners and the Jefferson County Board of Education need to work together to meet the county's growth needs.

The two government bodies also have to work as a team to make the changes they want in the state Legislature.

"I know they're separate entities, but when it comes to the future of Jefferson County, we can't plan it independently," said Mickey, who was on the Board of Education for about 18 years.

n Curtis E. Brannon, Democrat, said he is running for the Kabletown district seat because he feels someone needs to be doing more lobbying for state and federal funds to expand the county's infrastructure.

There are many bad roads in the county, whose ability to attract new business has been hampered because there are no four-lane roads that run through, Brannon said. There are sections of four-lane roads, but they do not extend through the county, said Brannon, 69.

"We've got plenty of work to do," he said.

"Everything relates to money. No one wants to hear that," he said.

Jefferson County's budget is now running about $11.1 million a year, "and that's not much to run a county with 40,000 people," said Brannon, adding that he supports more slot machine money from Charles Town Races coming to county coffers.

Brannon, of Route 2, Charles Town, has never held public office.

n S. Marshall Harris, Democrat, said he is running for the Kabletown seat to slow down "irresponsible residential growth."

Harris, 49, wants county officials to focus on business growth, and if possible, attracting businesses that cater to children.

Harris said there are few activities for children in the area, and because of that, families go to theme parks in Maryland and Virginia for entertainment and recreation.

"We don't even have a movie theater," said Harris, of Route 2, Harpers Ferry.

Harris also supports establishing a school bus transportation service in the county that would transport children to after-school recreation activities if they do not have a way to get to the programs.

Harris believes there are grants the county can apply for to increase the number of deputies at the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and he also favors changing state laws to allow deputy reserve officers to carry guns and be paid, like some other states allow.

Harris has never held elected office.

n Rusty Morgan, 59, of Rippon, feels the rapid rate of growth the county is experiencing is beginning to divide the community. Morgan thinks he would be able to "calm the waters" and bring a more balanced and rational approach to the challenge of managing growth and preserving the county's culture.

"Respect for our past and concern for quality-of-life issues should be our guide in dealing with growth in the future," Morgan said earlier in the year in a prepared statement.

Morgan believes it is the duty of county residents to protect the county's best open spaces for future generations.

n Greg Lance, a Democrat running for the Harpers Ferry district seat, has been running on a platform that centers on growth.

A former county commissioner who served for 12 years before being defeated in 1998, Lance said he wants to return to the job to help schools get the funding they need, pass impact fees, build more recreational facilities and look for ways to save open space in the county.

Lance, 46, said he supports an "urban traditional" residential growth pattern, where there would be about three houses per acre. The residential areas would be set up in a grid, having sidewalks, side streets and back alleys, said Lance, of 1235 Washington St., Harpers Ferry.

Under the pattern, about 35 percent of land in subdivisions would be set aside for green space, said Lance, a territory manager for Wyeth-Ayerst pharmaceutical company.

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