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Candidate calls for improving education

February 23, 2006|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Retired Washington County government employee John Weller filed Wednesday to run for County Commissioner, saying he has the time and energy to be a dedicated commissioner.

Weller, a Democrat, worked for the county for 43 years.

"I'd just like to be able to give something back to the community now that I have the time ... and am still physically able to do it," Weller, 64, of Hagerstown, said Wednesday.

Weller and former Commissioner Paul L. Swartz, also a Democrat, have filed to run in the upcoming election. There will be five open commissioner seats.

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Candidates have until July 3 to file. The primary election will be Sept. 12; the general election is Nov. 7.

Weller began working for the county in 1959 in the planning and zoning department. He retired in 2002 from the engineering department.

When he retired, he asked a previous board of commissioners to help pay for his health insurance, but the board turned him down.

Weller said Wednesday the incident had nothing to do with his decision to run for commissioner.

"It's not an issue. It's done. It's over," Weller said. "I'm still going. That's it."

Weller, however, said he has about 15 issues he'd like to raise during his campaign, including improving the quality of education, keeping taxes low and making commissioners meetings more accessible to the public.

Weller said he'd like to direct more money into classrooms, so teachers have the necessary resources to do their jobs effectively.

"I don't think the necessary funds are getting into the classroom the way they should be," he said.

He said he also would like the commissioners to meet twice a week, saying he didn't think one meeting a week was enough time to discuss county issues. The commissioners typically meet on Tuesdays.

Weller said he would propose holding a meeting on a Saturday once a month, so residents have a chance to attend and comment. The commissioners currently give the public the chance to comment on county issues during their meetings on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

"So, do we owe them at least an opportunity that they can come?" Weller said. "I think we do."

Weller was born and raised in Hancock, but has lived on Salem Avenue for about 38 years. His wife, Phyllis, died in January 2005.

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