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Williamsport candidates gearing up for town election next week

March 03, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - All of the candidates in next week's town election oppose collecting tolls to pay for widening Interstate 81.

That leaves skateboarding as a controversial issue in Monday's election. On this, the candidates - even running mates - diverge.

Four seats are on the ballot: mayor, assistant mayor and two town council positions. Each term is four years.

A slate of four Independent Progressive Party candidates, led by Mayor John W. Slayman, is running against a group of four independents, including mayoral candidate James G. McCleaf II.

Slayman said he wants to finish renovating the Springfield Barn and install more streetlights. McCleaf said he's concerned about the town's finances and its museum.

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Slayman, 72, of 30 W. Potomac St., was assistant mayor from 1981-85 and has been mayor since 1985. He is seeking his sixth term, on a ticket with Chris South, Kenneth Murphy and Fred M. Cole III.

Slayman is retired from General Motors in Berkeley County, W.Va.

South, 55, of 139 N. Artizan St., a candidate for assistant mayor, is the director of budget and finance for the Washington County Board of Education.

This is his first run for office, but his father, Charles, served on the town council.

Murphy, 40, of 232 E. Potomac St., a council candidate, works at GST AutoLeather. He also is running for office for the first time.

Cole, 31, of 33 E. Frederick St., a council candidate, works for Werres Corp. in Frederick, Md. This is his first run for office.

Leading the independent ticket, McCleaf, 34, of 121 W. Potomac St., works for Hopewell Manufacturing in Halfway.

After losing one bid for town council, he won the second time and served four years. He resigned to run for mayor, as required by town law.

Monty R. Jones, 41, of 215 S. Artizan St., is a partner in Always Ron's in Hagerstown, but said Tuesday that he is about to leave to free up some time. He hopes to open another business in Williamsport, where he had a catering company.

Jones served two years as councilman, then resigned to run for assistant mayor.

Council candidate Jeff Cline, 48, of 13 S. Artizan St., is a Realtor for Roger Fairbourn Real Estate in Hagerstown. He hasn't run before.

Council candidate Nelson F. Deal, 73, of 140 N. Artizan St., works for B&B Embroidery in Williamsport. He hasn't run before.

South and Murphy were the only candidates to clearly oppose a possible skateboarding park in town.

Jones supports a skating park, but only if the town doesn't run it. He thinks an outside group might be interested.

Other candidates were on the fence.

Slayman said he, as mayor, won't do anything until a council member makes a motion.

"My job is to give advice," he said.

Asked what the election's top issue is, South and Slayman said it's the possibility of I-81 tolls and spillover traffic into the town.

Cole, Cline, McCleaf and Jones said it was making sure that children have enough to do.

The independents said there isn't enough; the Independent Progressives said there is.

Murphy listed both tolls and youth activities as most important.

Deal went on his own. His top concern was getting more state grant money for town projects.

The salaries are $4,000 a year for mayor, $3,500 a year for assistant mayor and $2,500 a year for council member, according to Clerk/Treasurer Bonnie J. Errico.

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