Washington County presents many issues, but I will outline five of the main issues that will require our immediate attention: Jobs, growth, education, safety of our citizens and property tax relief for all, especially our senior citizens.
Education is the key issue, and if we are successful in implementing my plan to provide the opportunity for all Washington County graduating students to attend Hagerstown Community College tuition-free for their first two years, then we will be on the right path to solve the other issues.
Students will be able to choose either the college curriculum or the vocational job-skill training program. This also will help Washington County attract industries that pay higher wages and will help solidify our growth market as well. Again the good news - this plan can be funded by using the interest from our reserve fund. We could expect state aid, because both gubernatorial candidates have complimented me on my visionary planning.
Jobs are the driving force to deliver prosperity to Washington County. We must do everything possible to promote our county as a great location for industries and technology companies. First, we must convince those companies that we are educated, that we place a high premium on education and that our workforce is highly skilled through vocational training.
Next we must emphasize our location as being industry-friendly, with Interstates 81 and 70, rail service and airline transportation with a newly revamped runway extension).
Growth has become a national issue, as well as a local issue. We need to maintain a properly managed growth pattern because: 1. It is a revenue producer and 2. Growth provides many jobs and these jobs are good-paying jobs with benefits.
Managing growth is a team effort between developers, planners, zoning board, the public and the County Commissioners.
Growth needs to occur where we have already established infrastructure - water, sewer, roads, and schools. If growth is allowed to occur where infrastructure is not established, then we as County Commissioners must expect and demand that the developers and planners provide the necessary infrastructure before any building occurs.
The safety of our citizens is imperative. The County Commissioners must give complete support to our law enforcement agencies, fire and rescue companies and our judicial system.
Last and certainly not least, we must as County Commissioners provide a system of property tax relief for all our citizens, but especially our senior citizens who are earning less than $25,000 a year. I have worked very closely with Todd Hershey, our county treasurer, to develop such a plan.
The state has provided Hershey with suggestions and guidelines for our plan. The good news is it is doable; the bad news is the other elected County Commissioners must agree. It is the obligation of you, the voter, to elect the commissioners who will help you get you this relief.
I promise to fulfill my platform with the cooperation of the other commissioners and to work for every citizen regardless of party affiliation, race, color, sex or religious preference. Therefore I respectfully request your vote and your support on Nov. 7.
For all those of you who have called, I am not supporting building a new baseball stadium.
May God bless all.
Paul L. Swartz is a Democratic candidate for Washington County Commissioner.