Democrat Lewis C. Metzner, an incumbent councilman, said it would have been "outrageously irresponsible" for the council to encourage the building of a new hospital outside of Hagerstown's borders without closely examining the issue and becoming an "interested party."
Republican council candidate Torrence "Tory" VanReenen said elected officials should have the right to question proposals as residents do. She said hospital improvements, increasing the city's tax base and a need for affordable housing need to be better addressed by city government in the future.
Democrat Kristin Aleshire, an incumbent councilman, noted several improvements in downtown in the past four years that include the opening of the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown on West Washington Street, residential incentive programs for young professionals and the police surveillance cameras.
Republican council candidate Ruth Anne Callaham agreed that downtown is "shaping up," and noted that a Republican councilwoman, Carol Moller, was a part of those and other improvements. Callaham also said she believes she could do even better than some sitting council members.
Republican mayoral candidates Richard "Dick" Trump and Robert E. Bruchey II, a write-in candidate, and Democratic Mayor William M. Breichner talked about their views on the hospital and their most recent purchases at downtown businesses.
Four council candidates - Democrats Kelly Cromer, Penny May Nigh and Alesia Parson, and The Rev. Haru Carter Jr., a Republican - did not attend.
The municipal election is Tuesday.
Roland Smith, a resident of Hagerstown, said the candidates were far apart on the issues, and that candidates from both parties made strong showings.
"People who came got their money's worth," Smith said.
The event was free.