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Winners in county race prep for next election

September 14, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - One round down, another to go.

The Washington County Commissioner candidates who made it through Tuesday's crowded primary election say they are preparing for another tough challenge in the Nov. 7 general election.

Ten candidates - five Republicans and five Democrats - will compete for five open commissioner seats.

Voters pared the field from 24 candidates Tuesday with results that included some surprises.

Incumbent Commissioner Doris J. Nipps was defeated in the Republican primary and newcomer John F. Barr, a Republican, received the most votes among both parties.

The field consists of three incumbent commissioners, a former commissioner, a Hagerstown City Councilman, a former City Councilman, a former School Board member, the vice mayor of Clear Spring and two newcomers.

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Current Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, 48, did not seek re-election.

Many of Tuesday's vote totals, particularly among the Democrats, were close.

"I think this is one of the most competitive races since I've been associated with the county," Democratic candidate J. Herbert Hardin said Wednesday.

He said he already has begun stepping up his campaign.

After a late night Tuesday waiting for results, Hardin said he was up at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday making a two-page list of campaign-related duties.

He said he still must decide the best way to communicate his positions with the public.

"I think it's going to be a close race," Republican candidate Terry Baker said. "I think every candidate is qualified."

Baker, Clear Spring's vice mayor, said his election team will hold a meeting to talk about the next steps for the campaign.

"Our team is working exceptionally hard, and we're committed to running for the people," Baker, 50, said.

Barr, 52, said he thinks name recognition and his 25 to 35 years of community involvement helped make him the top vote-getter with 5,931 votes.

He received nearly 1,000 more votes than the candidate who received the second-highest number of votes, incumbent William J. Wivell.

Barr, owner of Ellsworth Electric, said he plans to remain focused on the effects of growth on the county and what needs to be done to keep growth manageable.

"I'm running as a candidate for County Commissioner not for any personal gain," Barr said. "I'm here to serve the people of this community."

Incumbent Commissioner James F. Kercheval said the general election could be more difficult than the primary, but that he doesn't really view it as a competition.

He said he's running on the issues he thinks matter to people and to try to help.

While he plans to put up some more signs in preparation for November, he said he won't spend a lot of money on his campaign.

"I hate to think that we get to the point where if you do your job ... you still got to rely on a lot of money to get elected," Kercheval, 41, said.

The Republican said he has done his best campaigning over the last 15 years by being involved with the community and through recognition as owner of the former Kerch's Southern BBQ Chicken.

Both Kercheval and Wivell said that for incumbents a candidate's voting record could be a factor in the election.

"I expect that the general election is going to be somewhat more difficult than the primary," said Wivell, the commissioners vice president. "I think it can get a little dirtier."

Though he hopes it will remain a clean race, Wivell, 42, said.

"We can certainly debate the issues without any bloodletting," he said.

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