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Shank, Munson at odds over bill

February 14, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Del. Christopher B. Shank is not ruling out a run against fellow Republican Sen. Donald F. Munson in three years.

Shank said he has Senate aspirations, but said he respects Munson so much that "it would take a lot for me to run against Don Munson."

Shank and Munson are at odds over a bill to grant Hagerstown Community College professors a union. A spat in Frederick County over a hotel-motel tax led two Frederick County delegates to challenge the county's two senators in last year's elections.

David Brinkley ousted Timothy R. Ferguson in a Republican primary, but Democrat Sue Hecht lost to Alex X. Mooney in November.

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But Shank, 30, said he and Munson get along despite the policy disagreement over the HCC union bill.

"We're like a family in the delegation and it doesn't necessarily mean I'm planning to run against him," said Shank, who said he hasn't given a lot of thought to the next election.

Munson, 65, said he has no plans to retire. As long as he is healthy, he will run again in 2006, he said.

"You can put a couple of exclamation points after that," he said. "I love my job and I love the people I represent and I want to continue doing it as long as I think I can do a good job."

As for the union bill, it's almost certain to suffer a slow death in the General Assembly at the hands of the county's three senators, who all are opposed.

All five of the county's delegates are in favor of the bill.

"We have two houses. We're two independent bodies who have to exercise our judgment," Munson said.

Munson is digging in his heels and said there's no chance he will change his mind about the issue. He's concerned it will lead to tuition hikes at the college to pay for higher salaries and benefits.

Professors have said they are not seeking a union in order to get raises, but because they want a say in how the college is run.

The county's nonresident senators, Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, and Sen. John Hafer, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, hold firm convictions against unions.

Shank, meanwhile, said he wants to see a compromise. He said he would like to see the college's Board of Trustees meet with the faculty to address their concerns.

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