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Trump says he quit over differences with council

February 03, 2006|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

Mayor Richard F. Trump cited irreconcilable differences between his vision for the City of Hagerstown and that of the city council as his reason for resigning Wednesday, dismissing rumors as well as assertions that he and the council had begun to move beyond the friction that plagued the early months of his administration.

"When we ran for city government, we understood the tremendous opportunity that stood before Hagerstown, with the tremendous growth we have, people coming over the mountain, the strengthening economy," Trump said Thursday in a telephone interview. "I don't think that I am having a positive impact at all with this council and the visions of planned growth."

Trump, 60, was elected on a pro-growth platform last May. He was the only Republican among an all-Democratic city council. In an interview following his election, Trump said he expected it would not be easy, but he pledged to work with the council for the betterment of the city.

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"This is going to take all the people skills I've got," Trump told The Herald-Mail. "The important thing that matters now is we have to move the city forward and we have to have civil government."

Despite his pledges, Trump frequently was caught up in verbal arguments with council members, mainly stemming from his attempts to assert control over meetings. All five council members co-authored a letter in September accusing Trump of failing "to follow basic rules of procedure, decorum and civility" and other "inappropriate behavior."

Several council members said they were surprised by Trump's resignation, particularly because they felt those issues had been resolved. Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he believed Trump and the council moved beyond their public bickering and had developed a sense of mutual respect.

"It's fascinating; it would have made a bit more sense four, five months ago," Metzner said. "I felt clearly from the first number of months of the administration that the relations between the mayor and council was very poor. Somewhere along the line it became obvious, I think to all of us, that the mayor had made obvious changes."

Trump said it had become clear to him that the council did not share his views on the future of the city. He said he felt it best to step aside and let the council select a mayor who was more in concert with their beliefs.

"I'm very comfortable with my decision, and we have a very strong city staff," he said. "I think there's probably somebody else that can more effectively lead the city."

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said he felt the mayor's resignation reflected poorly on the city.

"It's disappointing. To me, it's a black eye for the community, no matter how you slice it," Aleshire said. "I could probably go back over the past five years and find many issues I was passionate about that I was opposed by a majority vote."

Scott Hesse, a Republican who ran for council on the same pro-growth ticket as Trump, said in conversations with the former mayor, he knew Trump felt frustrated by his inability to implement some of the things they sought to bring about.

"I certainly understand he was in a frustrating role there and was working hard at it," Hesse said. "I certainly feel for him."

Metzner said he was disappointed Trump resigned at a time when it seemed he and the council were beginning to better relate to each other.

"He clearly has made a decision he would prefer not to," continue to work with the council, Metzner said. "You just assume you did something wrong, and you feel bad. Nobody's doing high-fives."

Trump discounted rumors about his resignation.

"It's very disheartening to hear things like that, and to hear how cruel this town can be," he said.

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