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Hagerstown mayor quits

February 02, 2006|By DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

HAGERSTOWN

daniels@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Mayor Richard F. Trump resigned from office Wednesday in a two-sentence letter of resignation addressed to the Hagerstown City Council.

"As of Febuary1, 2006, I respectfully resign the position of Mayor. I respect your understanding in this manner and will be glade to cooperate with any matters," Trump wrote.

Trump, 60, did not return messages left at his office, on his cell phones or at his residence.

During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said Trump offered no explanation for his resignation, and as recently as the council's voting session Tuesday gave no indication anything was wrong.

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"I think, to all of us, given the nature of the meeting last night, we were probably shocked," Metzner said.

Metzner spoke for the council during the conference and said the members hope to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible. He noted Trump's resignation has brought the sometimes-divided council closer together.

"It's another situation where, without there being a leader, the five of us have to lead now," Metzner said.

Trump was elected mayor in May, the only Republican among an all-Democratic city council.

He defeated incumbent Democratic Mayor William M. Breichner, 1,694 votes to 1,406 votes.

Trump verbally sparred with members of the council in the months following his election, prompting all five members of the council to co-author a letter accusing him of failing "to follow basic rules of procedure, decorum and civility" and other "inappropriate behavior."

The letter was drafted after a late-September council meeting during which Trump accused Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire of throwing up obstacles to growth. Metzner objected and said the mayor was "out of order," prompting Trump to briefly walk out of the meeting.

In recent months, relations between the mayor and council appeared to have improved. Metzner said he felt there was less of an adversarial relationship between Trump and the council and that the two had begun to develop some cohesion.

"I think the relations between mayor and council had drastically improved," Metzner said.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer agreed with Metzner and said she believed the issues that first plagued Trump's administration and been resolved.

"Things were starting to come together. Things were getting smoother," Cromer said.

During his last official council meeting Tuesday, Trump appeared to be in good spirits. He heartily welcomed Police Chief Arthur Smith back to the city after he was in Afghanistan for a year. He even joked about the city's upcoming tax set-off meeting with the Washington County Commissioners scheduled for Feb. 14, suggesting it would be a "lovely" session, since it is on Valentine's Day.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said before going to the executive session that he sent messages to each of the city's department heads about Trump's resignation.

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