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Commissioners race attracts 24 candidates

12 Republicans and 12 Democrats to be on ballot in Sept. 12 primary

12 Republicans and 12 Democrats to be on ballot in Sept. 12 primary

July 06, 2006|by TARA REILLY

The number of candidates running for Washington County Commissioner in September's primary isn't unusual, but the makeup of the next board might be.

The race includes four incumbent commissioners, a former commissioner, the president of the Washington County Board of Education, current and former Hagerstown city councilmen, members of the business community and retirees.

Twenty-four people - 12 Republicans and 12 Democrats - are running for a seat on the five-member board.

With the potential for change to the current all-Republican board and without Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, who is not running again, former Commissioner John L. Schnebly is wondering whether a new board will be able to work together.

Snook, who has been a commissioner for 16 years, announced Monday that he won't seeking re-election. He has been president of the board for most of his time in office.

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Schnebly, who is not running in the election, credited Snook with moving the board toward consensus and giving it stability.

Without that stability, Schnebly said the possibility exists that a new board might have more of a "radical" way of doing business.

A board consisting of "people who will fight rather than coming up with solutions" would hamper efforts to effectively govern the county, Schnebly said.

That's not what the county needs, especially during a time in which he feels regional planning and more intergovernmental cooperation will be necessary in moving the county forward.

The primary election is Sept. 12. The top five vote-getters in each party advance to the Nov. 7 general election.

Voters also will choose in the primary which of the 10 Board of Education candidates move on to the general election. There are three open seats.

Dorothy Kaetzel, Washington County Board of Elections supervisor, said the number of candidates who filed is about normal for a County Commissioners primary.

In 2002, 21 candidates filed, and 28 ran in the 1998 primary.

In 1974, there were 38 candidates, according to information provided by the Election Board.

Commissioner John C. Munson, who is seeking re-election to a second term, said that all of the candidates in this year's primary might not realize the amount of time it takes to be a commissioner.

He said they might think of it as a $30,000-a-year salary for a job that requires just one commissioners meeting a week.

The president of the board earns $33,000 a year.

"One thing people need to know is you don't walk in there on a Tuesday for a meeting and you walk out and you're done," Munson said.

Being a commissioner requires attending multiple meetings and public hearings, serving on committees, attending events and ceremonies, responding to concerns from residents and other duties, he said.

"It's not just a one-day-a-week job," Munson said.

Former Commissioner Bertrand L. Iseminger agreed that some might not take into account the amount of time required to be a commissioner, but he saw the number of candidates running as a good sign.

"I think it's terrific that a lot of people are willing to step up and put themselves on the line," said Iseminger, who is not running in the upcoming election.

Iseminger said he was eager to hear the views of the candidates.

"I think the number of candidates is just indicative of what's going on in the county," he said. "People think it's important that we get some good people running."

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