Candidate for city's mayor doesn't reside in Maryland

March 05, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

HAGERSTOWN - Roger Dean Weber, who will be on the ballot as Charlie Baker in Tuesday's Hagerstown primary election, lives in a mobile home in West Virginia.

That fact, coupled with the fact that Weber hasn't been granted the legal right to use the name Baker, has led local officials to believe there is sufficient information to challenge either his voter registration or his candidacy.

However, because the deadline for primary election challenges has passed, Weber - under the name Baker - will appear on Tuesday's ballot.


Dorothy Kaetzel, Washington County Board of Elections director, said Friday she was seeking guidance from state election officials on "whether we should" challenge Weber's voter registration, which he applied for on Jan. 21 under the name Baker.

Current election laws do not require people to provide a photo identification at the time of registration if they apply in person, Kaetzel said earlier this week.

When Weber registered to vote, instead of a photo identification, he provided a document from Hyde Park Apartments on Kensington Drive stating he had lived there since 2003.

Linda Koontz, the leasing agent for Hyde Park Apartments, said Weber, under the name Baker, never held a lease at the apartment, but was listed as an occupant by the leaseholder.

Kaetzel said her office is trying to find out whether her office should initiate a challenge because of recent reports that Baker's true last name is Weber. Challenges also can be initiated by individuals or candidates.

When asked what the effect of Weber having a West Virginia address is, Kaetzel said, "You can't lie on an application like that."

If Weber, aka Baker, were to win the Republican nomination next week, he could face a second form of challenge through the city's election board, City Clerk Donna Spickler said.

To become mayor, a candidate must be a registered voter and have lived in the city for at least one year prior to election, according to the Hagerstown city charter. The mayor also must be at least 25 years old.

Spickler said that because it appears Weber does not live in the city, it raises questions on his ability to be mayor. Any challenges regarding the charter requirements would be heard by the City Board of Elections Supervisors.

Weber, 60, spoke with a reporter Friday on the porch of his mobile home, which overlooks the Potomac River. He had his playful Rottweiler, Rocky, by his side.

Weber's home in the Sportsman's Paradise neighborhood in Marlowe, W.Va., is off a snow-covered, unpaved street that is worn by rain and pocked with holes.

Weber's white van with Michigan license plates was parked in front of the home, and a rusty, Japanese motorcycle that doesn't run stood on a kickstand near a shed.

Weber said he does not have a driver's license, but "I'm working on it." He said the last time he was in Michigan was "maybe 2003" and he doesn't hold a residence there.

Weber said he hadn't lived in the mobile home very long, but court documents filed in Berkeley County, W.Va., show he has lived there at least since December. Weber's neighbors, who did not want their names published, said they believe he has lived there at least a year.

Weber said he was unsure how his candidacy would turn out, but he will be happy on Tuesday, regardless of whether he's nominated to run in the general election.

"Things haven't developed the way I hoped they would," Weber said. "There's a lot of negative commentaries."

On Tuesday, however, he said, "towards the evening, I'll celebrate. I'll celebrate more if I win, but I'll be happy for whoever wins if it isn't me."

Staff writer Candice Bosely contributed to this story.

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