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Trump, team want to move city forward

February 23, 2005|by BOB MAGINNIS

With the March 8 city primary fast approaching, Hagerstown mayoral candidate Dick Trump says things are falling into place. Trump sat down with me for an hour's chat on his team and the issues that he feels face Hagerstown.

Campaign signs are due to arrive soon, radio ads have started and "the team," as the group running with Trump calls itself, is discussing what kind of TV ads to do.

To fund those, "a fair amount of money is being pledged," Trump said. "People are giving money because they say they need a change."

Asked what sort of change people say they want, Trump said that "they say they're frustrated with dealing with the obstacles."

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As one example, Trump mentioned the recent dispute between the PONY League and a softball league over use of the fields at the city's Fairgrounds Park.

"The City Council wouldn't entertain their discussion. We need to hear everybody's story," he said.

"Those are the kinds of behavior that filter down to the public. Things could be done better and we could like each other better," he said.

"That sounds corny, but we need to ask the question, 'How can we feel better about Hagerstown?'" he said.

One idea would be to get local business leaders to set up teams to go into every city department and look at what its goals and processes are and see where things could be improved and/or streamlined, he said.

"We would be letting people know that government is not just responding to things that happen, but setting up a plan for the future," he said.

Asked about how he would improve the downtown area, Trump said he endorsed the statement made by Ed Lough, chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Lough said the revival of the city has to be residentially driven by drawing people in to live in market-rate housing in and around the downtown core.

Trump said he favored issuing bonds for the purpose of purchasing dilapidated properties, then working with smaller contractors to rehabilitate one or two at a time. Even if the construction is new, Trump said he'd want it to look like most of the architecture here.

"I don't think you'd want to change the ambiance of the town," he said.

Part of drawing people into the city will be dealing with the drug trade. Trump said that he wanted to place more anti-crime cameras on the street and add more neighborhood police officers.

And, he said, "If you live on Locust Street or East Washington Street, you want to be able to know your day cop and your night cop and feel good about them."

More light downtown would also help said Trump, who added that street lights leave the area too dark now.

"I believe in the biblical principle of bringing more light. Sin operates in the darkness," he said.

As for the issue of the Washington County Hospital's proposed move to Robinwood, Trump said he's not opposed.

"This is the hospital's decision and it's our job to facilitate that," he said.

Asked if the city government has a role in the process because of the hospital's impact on its health-care costs, Trump said that the latest figures show the move will increase those costs by 4.7 percent, a reasonable amount given what's happened recently.

"Don't you also have to sell doctors on coming here by giving them a first-class facility?" he asked.

As for the 1991 promise made by hospital officials that there would never be an acute care hospital at Robinwood, Trump said that many things have changed since then.

Trump cited New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's book, "The Lexus and the Olive Tree," which he said is about the difference between societies that are static and those that are dynamic. In 15 years, situations change and government has to change with them, he said.

Trump said his energy would be going into building relationships between the city, state and county governments.

"I think we have to be very open to moving forward, planning ahead and consolidating state, county and city resources for the common good of the community," he said.

Asked if there was anything else anyone needed to know about him or the team, Trump said "there really isn't anybody in it for selfish interests. We're all working for the good of the community."

Between now and March 8, Trump said he and the team will be meeting weekly, looking at how to make the campaign successful and making themselves known to citizens.

"Nobody's going to support Dick Trump unless he gets out there and tells the story of Dick Trump," he said.

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