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GOP commissioners hopefuls detail strengths

October 17, 2006|by TARA REILLY

Editor's note: The Herald-Mail interviewed the 10 candidates for Washington County Commissioners. This story profiles the five Republican candidates. On Wednesday, we will profile the five Democratic candidates.




WASHINGTON COUNTY - The three incumbent Republican Washington County Commissioners say their experience on the board helps qualify them to serve another four years.

The Republican challengers say their business and community backgrounds have prepared them for the role.

Voters will have the final say on which candidates they like best Nov. 7.

Five Republicans and five Democrats are seeking five open seats on the Board of County Commissioners. The position pays $30,000 a year, and the president receives $3,000 more.

The Republican candidates are incumbents James F. Kercheval, John C. Munson and William J. Wivell, and newcomers John F. Barr and Terry Baker.

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Wivell, commissioners vice president, said he has gone through the "learning curve" of local government by serving two four-year terms on the board.

He is a certified public accountant and works as the business manager for Saint James School. Wivell, 42, of Smithsburg, said he has 20 years of professional experience in accounting, budgeting and financial analysis.

Wivell said he is a consistent conservative voice on the board, focusing on needs, rather than wants, and has shown a commitment to lowering the county's debt.

Barr, owner of Ellsworth Electric, said as a businessman he knows how to treat customers and employees.

With the business knowledge comes the knowledge of operating on a budget and having a "full-fledged business plan" in effect, Barr, 53, said.

As a longtime county taxpayer with a local education, he said he knows the issues facing the county.

"As a farmer and landowner, I have the understanding and appreciation for hard work, heritage and legacy that this leaves for Washington County," Barr said.

Munson, who has a term under his belt, said he has the time to devote to being a County Commissioner.

"It's not just a one-day-a-week deal," said Munson, a retired U.S. postmaster. "I don't see how anyone with a job can do this."

Munson, 65, a lifelong resident of the county, said his qualifications include his good relationship with the public. He said he is often in the county office doing work and responding to messages from residents.

In his four years as a commissioner, he said he has never failed to return a phone call, letter or e-mail from county residents.

Baker, 50, has been on the Clear Spring Town Council for the last four years. He has spent the last two years as vice mayor.

He is a graduate of Hagerstown Junior College and received a bachelor of science degree in 1978 from Auburn University. He holds a master's equivalency in education and has taken additional graduate courses.

Baker has coached high school cross country and indoor and outdoor track for more than 15 years and is a trades instructor at Washington County Technical High School.

He is a small-business owner, licensed general contractor and is an Associated Builders and Contractors-certified instructor.

Kercheval, a Washington County native, said his educational background and experience as a small-businessman have given him leadership experience and the skills to be a commissioner.

He is the former owner of Kerch's Southern BBQ.

Kercheval, an incumbent who has served one term, said he has been able to build relationships with state officials and increased his knowledge of county issues.

He said managing the county is like managing a large corporation.

"I'm not looking to keep my job, I'm looking to do my job," Kercheval, 41, said.

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