Election defeats won't end service

December 02, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

TRI-STATE - After his basketball team wins the championship, the coach finds out about a relationship that causes a deep rift, until ...

To be continued.

With his days as a Washington County Commissioner over, Paul Swartz will have time to write the rest of that sports novel, which has been in progress for two years.

Swartz said his job as a commissioner demanded a lot of time - an average of 40 to 60 hours per week.


He said he will have no trouble, as a civilian, filling that gap.

Others who have lost re-election bids or who have decided to step down, though, may need time to adjust to wide-open chunks of time.

Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., who was unseated after 28 years as a delegate, is the most recent politician facing the transition.

Clear Spring Republican LeRoy E. Myers Jr. upset Taylor in a race that ended Tuesday when Taylor conceded after a recount.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Taylor wrote, "After 28 years of long days and continuous travel to and from Annapolis, I am looking forward to private life, but I fully expect and hope to continue in some form of public service. The passion to serve remains in my heart as I consider my days ahead and how to spend them."

Swartz, who was defeated for re-election last month after one four-year term, has plenty of ideas for his new spare time.

He's considering a job coaching basketball and fund-raising in Lynchburg, Va. He said he's been offered a volunteer position at Hagerstown Community College.

He wants to continue serving on two county commissions - one on aging and one on disabilities.

Swartz hopes to decide on his future after Christmas. He's not sure, though, that he wants to leave the area.

Bert Iseminger, the other Washington County Commissioner voted out of office on Nov. 5, said he'll be glad to focus more on his work as an insurance agent.

He plans to stay involved with the YMCA, the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's Downtown Task Force, a child care group and the Washington County Health Department's Wellness Challenge.

He also looks forward to accompanying his wife to museums, the Kennedy Center in Washington and other cultural attractions. Too often, night meetings spoiled their plans.

Iseminger, who also served four years as commissioner, guessed that he spent 30 hours a week on county business.

Richard Starliper, who stepped down from the Waynesboro (Pa.) Borough Council last December after 14 years, never spent as much time. His estimate is five hours a week. Even that might be generous, he said.

With good people working around him, Starliper didn't worry about tasks getting done, he said.

Starliper said he misses the chance to keep taxes down and streets in good order, but he doesn't miss the politics.

"When I left the Waynesboro council, I said they had some important decisions to make and they haven't made them yet," he said. "They've gone the other way."

Starliper said there are rumors he might run again. He's not committing either way.

The Dec. 19 meeting of the Berkeley County (W.Va.) Commission will be Robert Burkhart's last. He did not run again this year, ending his 30-year career on the commission.

Looking ahead, Burkhart said, "I still have my farm that my son runs. Also, I have five children and 10 grandchildren. They'll keep me busy."

Burkhart said he's sure he'll stay involved in government to some degree, but he's glad to move on.

"I'll miss the people, but that's it," he said.

The secret to life after politics, former Washington County Board of Education member B. Marie Byers said, is thinking ahead.

"They should find a project or commitment or something (through which) they will make a difference," she said.

For Byers, that came quickly.

She left the School Board in November 2000 after 30 years.

Right away, she became more involved with the Daughters of the American Revolution and St. John's Lutheran Church and she joined the group working on Discovery Station, an interactive science center.

She wants to be a docent at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and volunteer for the Washington County Historical Society at the Miller House.

"It's important to plan ahead to realize you're not going to meetings five days a week, or into schools, not having a responsibility to fulfill every day," said Byers, who spent an estimated 30 hours a week on local, state and national school board matters.

Retiring as a school administrator eight years ago "drove me crazy," Swartz said.

Then, as a commissioner, he found plenty to keep him busy.

In four years, he might run again for county commissioner, he said.

"You never say never," Swartz said.

Iseminger is saying never.

"At this point, I'm finished with politics," he said.

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