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City Council to eye charter reform

February 03, 2006|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

Some Hagerstown City Council members said they think Mayor Richard F. Trump's resignation Wednesday underscored the need to revise the city's charter.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the issue dates to Trump's narrow win over Democratic incumbent Mayor William M. Breichner by just 288 votes in last May's city election.

"I think this just furthers the point that, before this administration is done, there needs to be charter reform," Metzner said.

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Trump, a Republican, defeated Breichner 1,694-1,406. Write-in Republican candidate Robert E. Bruchey II won 1,203 votes. Metzner said he thinks the council needs to consider tightening the city's charter to require winning mayoral candidates capture more than 50 percent of the vote to be considered the victor.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire agreed. He pointed to Roger Dean Weber's ability to run in the primary election under the alias Charlie Baker. Weber was registered to vote under a Hagerstown mailing address, but The Herald-Mail learned he was living in West Virginia, making him ineligible to be mayor.

"I think that the state of events that have occurred in this election in particular, at a minimum, require us to go back and look," Aleshire said. "There's obvious deficiencies in our election process when guys like Charlie Baker can slip through the cracks."

Aleshire said charter reform is something some members of the council had resolved to address before Trump resigned, in part because of the election and also due to what he believes are omissions in the city's code of ethics and rules of procedure. During Tuesday's council meeting, Aleshire said he felt the council needed to develop a clearly defined set of procedures concerning the behavior of council members.

Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean said she believes the council has been resolved, since last spring's elections, to update the city's charter.

Councilwomen Penny M. Nigh and Kelly S. Cromer did not return calls for comment.

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