The choice is yours, if you vote

March 06, 2005|by LIZ THOMPSON

The timing of this column allows me the opportunity to talk (nag) about one of my pet topics - voting.

The Hagerstown primary election is this Tuesday.


Ten Democratic City Council candidates are on the ticket seeking the five nominations for the general election. There are five candidates on the Republican ticket for council and a primary is not necessary. The five Democratic nominees selected Tuesday will face the five Republican nominees in the May 17 general election.


Four Republicans are on the primary ballot hoping to become their party's nominee for mayor in the general election. The Republican nominee will face incumbent William M. Breichner, a Democrat, in the general election.


With this many candidates in the race, it is clear there is interest in dealing with city issues by those in the running.


In previous years, there hasn't been the same level of interest demonstrated by voters, especially in city primaries.

Four years ago, in 2001, less than 12 percent of the registered voters in Hagerstown decided which candidates would go on to the general election. Of the 15,454 people who were registered to vote in that election, only 1,802 bothered, according to information from the Washington County Board of Elections.

Less than 18 percent of registered voters picked the current mayor and council in the 2001 general election. At that time, there were 18,264 registered voters in the city. Of those, 3,159 picked the current mayor and council.

By my math, that means 15,105 people who could have voted didn't and instead demonstrated that they didn't care who won the election and, consequently, who ran the city.

That is a whole lot of apathy.

In the last five primary elections - from 1985 through 2001 - the best voter turnout was in 1989, and even that was nothing to crow about.

In that election, when the only primary issue was on the Democratic ticket, turnout was 19.2 percent. In real numbers in 1989, there were 8,772 registered voters. Of those, 1,691 voted.

In the four other primaries between those years, the turnout remained between 10.4 percent and 12.9 percent.

So vote. Boost the numbers here a little bit. Take part and, by your vote, take a stand.

Voting takes a little effort, but having a say in the outcome makes it worth the time.

Here are some of the issues as listed by the candidates:

· Expand city borders through annexation

· Improve communications/cooperation among various government bodies

· Improve downtown business/revitalization opportunities

· Improve the sewer plant operations

You can find the candidates' platforms on The Herald-Mail's Web site at

There are a lot of issues that must be decided by the next mayor and council. Should a small number of voters decide who has the best plan to address those issues?

I don't think so.


Liz Thompson is city editor of The Herald-Mail. She may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7682, or by e-mail at

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