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The ballot says Baker, but his name is Weber

March 02, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - One of the names appearing on next Tuesday's City of Hagerstown primary election ballot is Charlie Baker, but the Republican mayoral candidate's given name is Roger Dean Weber.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Weber said he began using the name Charlie Baker when he began using the Internet.

Weber said he began using the name "probably in the early 80s when I first went on AOL (America Online). It seemed everyone was using an anonymous name, and I just chose Charlie Baker."

Weber said, "I've been using that (name) since, in one context or another. ... I use it all the time for everything."

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Weber admitted to having past run-ins with the law, including serving prison time, but he did not respond to specific questions asking if he is the man who served a prison sentence in Michigan.

Local election officials said Tuesday that Weber, aka Baker, has met requirements both as a voter and to run as a candidate.

Criminal history


In an interview last week, Weber said he was arrested in the late 1960s and served federal prison time after being caught carrying marijuana into the country via the Mexican border.

According to Michigan prison records, a Roger Dean Weber with the same date of birth provided to local officials under the name Charlie Baker was convicted in 1978 of assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to serve between 14 months and four years in prison.

The man named Roger Dean Weber in the Michigan system also was convicted in 1981 of prison escape.

In the phone interview from his Hagerstown home, Weber, aka Baker, said he does not recall having been in prison in Michigan between December 1978 and April 1985, the dates shown by Michigan records.

"It's too long ago for me to remember definitively anything that would be relevant to our conversation," Weber said.

Weber did not answer repeated questions asking if he was the same Weber who served prison time in Michigan.

Name change petition


On Dec. 17, 2004, Weber filed a petition in Washington County Circuit Court to change his name to Charlie Baker.

In the documents, the reason Weber listed for seeking the name change was, "Some folks in town give me grief because they don't like me using this name."

The name change has not been granted by the court, according to court documents.

Weber said he filed to change his name to Baker because, "quite frankly, I believe it is my legal name.

"I've used it exclusively. I don't attempt to defraud anyone. Everyone knows who I am."

Asked if he was attempting to obscure his background with the name change petition, he said if he were using it for fraudulent purposes, such as for false credit applications, "it would be something to wonder about," but he said he is not doing that.

Requirements met


Weber, using the name Baker, has met all requirements to vote in Washington County and to run for office in the City of Hagerstown, even though he has not been granted the legal right to use the name Baker, local officials said Tuesday.

Weber will be allowed to vote in next Tuesday's primary under the name Baker, said Washington County Board of Elections Director Dorothy Kaetzel. She said the local election laws are guided by state and federal election laws.

Kaetzel said that under current rules, the only time a voter applying to register would have to provide identification - a photo document such as a driver's license, or a utility bill with the prospective voter's name and address - is if they apply by mail.

Weber, using the name Baker, registered to vote in person on Jan. 21. Kaetzel said those who register to vote in person at the county election office do not have to provide identification information under current laws.

Later that same day, Weber filed a certificate of candidacy to run for mayor under the name of Baker.

The mayor must be a qualified voter in the city, according to the city charter. Weber, having successfully registered as a city voter earlier that day, met the voter requirement.

The mayor also must be 25 years old or older, and must have lived in the city for one year before being elected.

Weber is 60 years old. According to a document he provided to election officials, Weber has lived as Baker on Kensington Drive since 2003.

Brenda Hawbaker, a city administrative assistant, notarized Weber's certificate of candidacy. Hawbaker said Weber did not have a photo identification with him, but provided some court documents with the name Baker.

Hawbaker said City Attorney Mark Boyer looked over the documents and OK'd them.

Boyer declined to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.

Maryland's Election Law does not specifically address candidates who want to run for office under an alias, said Donna Duncan, the director of the election management division for the State Board of Elections.

Nickname affidavit


A candidate who wants to be known by a nickname on the ballot must file an affidavit stating that he or she is commonly known by that name.

But, generally, a first name - not a last name - might be shortened or substituted to form a nickname, she said.

Some candidates have done just that. For instance, Republican mayoral candidates Robert E. Bruchey II, Anthony T. Campello and Richard F. Trump have asked to change the way their names will appear on the ballot, but not substantially. They will be on the ballot as Bob Bruchey, Tony Campello and Dick Trump.

Duncan said she has not known of a candidate using an alias to run for office.

The state's Election Law specifically does not apply to municipal elections, but a municipality, on its own, may adopt the state election laws, Duncan said.

Staff writers Pepper Ballard and Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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