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Steele walks the walk and talks the talk in downtown

Senatorial candidate campaigns in area

Senatorial candidate campaigns in area

September 19, 2006|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN - For visitors and employees of downtown Hagerstown's businesses, it must have been hard not to notice who was in town Monday morning.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele arrived at Public Square at about 9:15 a.m. in his "Steele Wheels for Change" recreational vehicle, which was decorated with large self-portraits and his last name.

Then, he took to the street.

The Republican U.S. Senate candidate, flanked by members of his staff, local officials and campaign supporters, walked along West Washington Street visiting shops, greeting locals and posing for pictures.

The group grew a bit as Steele made his way through downtown Hagerstown.

His first stop? A cup of brew at Square Cup.

Form there, Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II took Steele for a quick visit to the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown.

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Bruchey pointed out that the current state administration played a key role in bringing the education center to Hagerstown.

"It's a beautiful campus," Steele remarked.

A little bit later, Steele and the group walked to the Washington County Board of Elections, where he had words of praise for election officials.

"Thank you guys for not having a mess," Steele said of last week's primary election. "You guys did a tremendous job."

Other precincts across the state faced delays and glitches in the election.

Steele finished his hourlong tour with a stop at the Visitors Welcome Center, which is run by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Earlier Monday morning, Steele was at a Women of Steele breakfast at Four Points Sheraton, just outside of Hagerstown.

Local Republican women wore "Women of Steele" T-shirts as they accompanied the lieutenant governor on his Hagerstown walking tour.

In a brief interview Monday, Steele said he was aware of the rising cost of living in Washington County and the concerns that those who work here are finding it difficult to be able to live here.

In particular, he said there are police, emergency service and volunteer firefighters who serve Washington County, but have to live outside the county because of the cost of living. It's essential that such workers are able to live in the areas they serve, he said.

The issue should be addressed with a mix of federal, state and employer incentives that help people live where they work, he said.

"Trying to balance that out is a real challenge," Steele said.

Steele received nearly 84 percent of the vote for U.S. senator in the Washington County Republican primary election last week. He received 87 percent of the vote statewide, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

He will face U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, in the Nov. 7 election.

Steele said Maryland residents should vote for him because he wants to represent their interests, not a political party.

"I hope to be an honest broker for the people of Maryland," Steele said. "I think they're ready for someone who is serious about change and who is serious about changing the status quo, and I guarantee you that is what I'm going to do."

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