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Town election set for Tuesday

November 18, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - Traffic, better relations with town residents and maintaining Sharpsburg's quaint historical atmosphere are among the issues raised by five candidates vying for three Town Council seats in Tuesday's town election.

Vice Mayor Hal Spielman is running unopposed.

Incumbent Council members Russell Weaver, Patti Hammond and Marjorie Jamison are being challenged by political newcomers Jennifer Silbert and Paul Breitenbach for three seats with four-year terms.

Breitenbach, co-owner of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn, and Councilman Ralph Hammond were involved in a contentious exchange during a council meeting in October 2001 that continued after the meeting ended.

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Hammond was upset Breitenbach brought a complaint before the council about lights on a tavern that Hammond co-owns and is next door to the inn. Expressing his frustration to Breitenbach after the meeting, Hammond used profanity at least twice within hearing distance of others.

The matter has since been resolved.

"I'm sure I could work with (Ralph) and learn something from him," said Breitenbach, 56. "I respect his experience on the council."

Breitenbach and Silbert both want to improve relations between the council and residents.

Breitenbach said he started a Web site, sharpsburgmd-community.hypermart.net, to provide newcomers with resources about the town. He said he wants the town to improve the site and get a more familiar Web address.

The two new candidates also want to investigate what can be done to improve problems with congestion and speeding from increased traffic from West Virginia on Md. 34, which is Sharpsburg's Main Street.

Silbert said she wants to explore traffic enforcement and design solutions suggested by the Maryland State Highway Administration to calm traffic.

"Probably what's driving me to run more than anything is I want us to be more fair and responsive in tending to issues by any resident from any background," Silbert said. "What people want more than anything right now on the council is someone who's going to listen to them and give them a fair shake and I can do that."

Silbert, 42, is a freelance writer.

Traffic also was discussed by one of the incumbent council members.

Jamison, 57, who was appointed to the council in August 2001 to replace Denise Troxell, wants to see a town bypass like Keedysville's.

The substitute librarian and retired teacher said the issue was raised decades ago and should be revisited because of traffic congestion and speeding. She said the bypass could go from Md. 34 west of town to Md. 65 in between the town and Antietam National Battlefield.

Patti Hammond and Jamison said they'd like to see more small businesses in town that serve the public, but not big business or development that would deter from the town's small-town atmosphere.

Hammond said the council should continue to act as a watchdog for town residents, requesting more police enforcement when problems crop up and creating new laws when needed to protect residents.

Hammond is seeking her second term on the council. Her husband is Councilman Ralph Hammond.

"I'd like the opportunity to see that my community stays a safe place for our citizens," said Hammond, 55, an associate librarian at Western Maryland Public Libraries.

Weaver said he wants to ensure the town stays a "great place to live." That includes making sure the town has quality open space such as the park and continuing good financial management of the town.

He said he will continue to support local groups and events such as the fire company, ambulance company, Little League, Lions Club, Sharpsburg Heritage Festival and Memorial Day Parade.

Weaver, 57, is seeking his fifth term on the council. He is a sales executive with IBM Corp.

Spielman, 53, was re-elected to council two years ago and was appointed vice mayor when Sidney Gale became mayor. He is running again so soon because the council seat terms are staggered and the vice mayoral post's term ends this year.

The Smithsburg High School agriculture teacher said he wants to maintain the small-town atmosphere and have the town continue to provide a subsidy to Washington County water and sewer customers within town limits.

Council members earn $30 a year and an additional $1 for each special meeting they attend. Town Treasurer Tom McCall said Spielman is the only current council member accepting the salary.

The polling place at Town Hall will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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