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Munson says he'll fight county debt if elected

May 16, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

John C. Munson said he would try to wipe out the county's debt if elected to the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

The retired postmaster announced Wednesday that he is seeking the office.

When he ran four years ago, Munson came within 11 votes of getting a Republican nomination in the primary.

Munson, 61, said his main motivation for running is to control government spending.

"I think there's a lot of waste in this county. We need to stop the spending, do without anything for a couple of years until we get out of debt," he said.

On Wednesday, the same day he filed his candidacy papers, Munson said he collected the latest figures on the county's debt. The county is carrying $156 million of debt, which is about $12 million more than when the current board of commissioners took over nearly four years ago, he said.

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This year, the county will pay $7 million in interest alone, he said.

It's not unusual for governments to borrow money to pay for large building or capital improvement projects.

But Munson said he thinks Washington County should eliminate all its debt.

"There's no reason to borrow," he said.

Munson said the Washington County Board of Education is top-heavy in administration and could withstand cuts that wouldn't hurt the quality of education, he said.

The county could also save money by cutting one position in each department.

Once the debt is gone, the county could reduce property and income taxes, he said.

If elected, Munson said he would propose that the commissioners reject a 50-percent raise passed by the Maryland General Assembly this year.

The salary is due to increase from $20,000 to $30,000 for those elected Nov. 5.

Except for a stint in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1964, Munson has lived in Washington County. He has lived at 17817 Bluebell Drive near Hagerstown for the past 20 years.

Munson watched the Cuban Missile Crisis unfold before it became public knowledge while working in cryptography for the Army Security Agency's office in Ankara, Turkey.

"I saw it all come across the teletypes," said Munson, who still doesn't want to talk about the details for fear of revealing state secrets.

A cousin of Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, Munson worked for the postal service for 30 years. He started as a carrier in the Hagerstown office and worked his way up to a supervisor there. Before retiring in 1996, he served as postmaster in Cascade and Middletown, Md.

Two Republicans and two Democrats have filed to run for the office so far, including one incumbent, Paul Swartz. The filing deadline is July 1.

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