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Swartz to run for county office again

January 11, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY

andrews@herald-mail.com

In late 2002, when Paul L. Swartz failed to win re-election as a Washington County commissioner, he had his retirement life to fall back on.

He considered coaching basketball again. A book idea was in his head. He thought about moving to North Carolina.

More than three years later, Swartz is still here and the politics bug is back.

Swartz, 67, of Maugansville, filed Tuesday to run again for county commissioner in this year's election.

The issues he supported as commissioner from 1998 to 2002 are back, too.

Swartz, a Democrat, said the county should put $2 million in a scholarship fund so all graduating Washington County high school seniors can go to Hagerstown Community College tuition-free, if they keep at least a C average.

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He wants the county to lower its property tax rate. He favors a sliding scale in which people would pay less as they get older. Around age 75 or 80, they would pay no property tax.

Swartz said the sales tax in Washington County should go up 1 percentage point, bringing in, by his estimate, $12 million to $20 million.

All five Washington County Commissioner terms expire this year. Swartz is the first official candidate. The filing deadline is July 3.

The primary election is Sept. 12 and the general election is Nov. 7.

Swartz said he filed so early to see how the electorate feels about his candidacy.

The idea to run again came out of the blue in November from his wife, Shirley, he said. He gave it some thought.

"I did a lot of praying about this and the answer" - yes - "kept coming back, but without the office," Swartz said. Then came the office: Congress.

Swartz said he rejected that; he lacked money and experience. He said he looked at the "Co" in the answer, and asked, How about "county"?

But "what has probably motivated me to run more than anything is that this group of county commissioners has decided to do it on their own," Swartz said, accusing them of not consulting with their predecessors.

Swartz said that as a commissioner, he regularly met with a cabinet, of sorts, including two former commissioners. The cabinet discussed and debated issues with him. In return, he took them out for dinner.

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