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Appreciating Linn Hendershot

March 10, 2005

In every contested election, after all the ballots are counted, there are those who are victorious and those who are vanquished.

We are purposely not characterizing those candidates as "winners and losers," because, despite the fact that he was defeated in Tuesday's Hagerstown primary, Councilman N. Linn Hendershot is anything but a loser.

Hendershot, confined to a wheelchair because of a childhood bout with polio and a later case of bronchial pneumonia, nevertheless held a full-time job as communications director of the Western Maryland Hospital Center.

When he filed in 2001, he said his health should be not be an issue, because he already spent long hours working and heading up the Washington County Disability Advisory Council and MiHi, a group which focuses on making recreational areas accessible to all individuals.

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Of his candidacy, he said he wanted to be a member of the council "not to make a career, but to make a difference."

Hendershot, a former marketing man, used his council seat to promote a number of ideas.

After watching people enjoy music on summer Sunday afternoons in the county's Pen Mar Park, Hendershot decided that those same people might come downtown on winter weekends to dance in the ballroom of the city's Masonic Temple. Now private promoters are offering dances and dance instruction there.

When M&T Bank closed its Nicodemus Branch in downtown, Hendershot touted the idea of creating a center for the study of genealogy there that would draw researchers from far and wide.

He also worked on the issue of handicapped accessibility, helping to put together a plan to make the Hager House museum and other parts of City Park available to everyone.

On other policy issues, Hendershot promoted the ideas espoused by David Rusk, author of "Cities Without Suburbs."

Rusk, a former elected official himself, argues in the book that if cities are allowed to become islands of poverty inside a ring of suburbs, both areas will suffer.

Hendershot also had the foresight to see that televising all of the City Council's meetings might not be the best thing. But while Hendershot expressed fear TV might inhibit elected officials, in many cases it had the opposite effect.

Hendershot himself vented his disappointment with the course of events from time to time. However, his remarks were not grandstanding, but the frustration of an elected official who knew he might not have an endless supply of tomorrows to get things done.

When Hendershot filed to run again, he said he was "having the time of his life" and looked forward to working hard for another term.

Today we acknowledge the hard work he did in his last term and express the hope that whoever is elected will call on his expertise again.

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