Swartz, Iseminger caught in 'landslide'

November 07, 2002|by TARA REILLY

The two Democratic Washington County Commissioners ousted from office in Tuesday's general election said Wednesday there was one major reason why they weren't re-elected: The Republicans did a better job of promoting their candidates.

"They did a better job than our Democratic Central Committee with getting the word out," Commissioners Vice President Paul L. Swartz said.

Swartz and Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger were defeated in their bids to serve another four-year term, according to complete but unofficial results.


Voters elected an all-Republican board, consisting of incumbents Gregory I. Snook and William J. Wivell and newcomers James F. Kercheval, John C. Munson and Doris J. Nipps.

Washington County voters chose Republicans in all but two contested races. Democrat Charles F. Mades was re-elected to a fifth term as sheriff, and John P. Donoghue of District 2C was re-elected to a fourth term in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Swartz and Iseminger said the voters chose party politics over issues in the strong Republican showing.

"I really don't think the voters even looked at issues or records or anything," Swartz said. "I think it was a typical Republican vote."

"I think it was more about party this year than it was about issues," Iseminger said of the all-Republican vote. "They got folks out and they voted. ... I have to give credit to the Republicans. They did a great job."

Iseminger, who changed his party from Republican to Independent to Democrat, joked that he might have done better if he remained a Republican.

"I think I would have had a better shot," Iseminger said.

He then said his views more align with the Democratic party, which is why he switched.

"That would not have been fair to the public, because I'm not a Republican," Iseminger said.

Swartz and Iseminger also said their votes to approve a moratorium on rural residential growth and the county commission's decision to keep secret a retirement payment given to former Economic Development Commission Director John Howard may have played a part in their losses.

"I'm sure some people took that into consideration when they cast their votes," Iseminger said of the Howard deal.

Iseminger and Swartz said every decision they have made, including the moratorium and Howard votes, were done so with the best interests of county citizens in mind.

"I've always tried to be honest with people and let them know where I stand," Iseminger said.

"I did what I thought was right for the county," Swartz said. "If I offended anyone, that's part of politics. I had to do what I thought was right."

Democratic Central Committee Chairman Rick Hemphill said Wednesday more Republicans voted than Democrats, and that the majority of the Republican voters chose a straight ticket.

"I don't think they spent much time looking at the candidates, which is a little unusual," Hemphill said. "Generally, Washington County tends to vote for the person rather than the party."

Republican Central Committee Chairwoman Mildred "Mickey" Myers said the Republicans worked hard campaigning and that the party had strong candidates.

"We had a plan, we followed through and that is what happened," Myers said. "It was a tremendous amount of work."

Myers said she expected three Republican commissioners to be elected, and that she was a little surprised the party swept the race by ousting Swartz and Iseminger.

"I have to compliment the Republican committee for securing this election," Swartz said. "We just got caught in that landslide."

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