Republicans responses at candidates forum

October 19, 2006

Terry Baker, 50, Clear Spring

How to address affordable housing in the county: The county first must define affordable housing. If housing is beyond a person's purchasing limits, then it's not affordable. He thinks any affordable housing incentives should be capped.

On managing growth: Too much growth isn't good for the county's economy. It's nearly as bad as "zero percent" growth. He thinks the county should find a balance between low and high growth "and decide what the growth rate will be."

How to preserving agricultural land when some residents don't accept government money (for easements): The county needs to preserve its rural heritage and compensate farmers.

On his qualifications: "I have integrity."

John F. Barr, 52, Hagerstown

On the county's property tax rate: Thinks the tax rate should be lowered to the constant yield. He also would like to see the county's wage base be increased to the state's median income. Barr says one of the ways this can be done is to attract higher paying jobs to the county.


Views of economic development in the county: Large companies are considering moving to the county. The local Economic Development Commission, which he has been involved with, is recruiting industrial and technology firms that pay good wages and benefits, rather than "big box" companies that offer average wages of $9 per hour.

On the county's approximately $162 million total debt: Would like to reduce the debt if possible.

James F. Kercheval, 41, Hagerstown

On funding for education: Four years ago, education funding was lower. The current board has increased its allocation to the School Board, especially for school construction projects from about $2.5 million to $3 million to $12 million or $14 million.

Rating the success of the county's state lawmakers: Thinks the delegation is working hard in Annapolis to bring back money for the county and that the job is more difficult than just making a few phone calls. He supports hiring a lobbyist to increase the county's success in Annapolis.

Keeping taxes affordable: The commissioners have "piggybacked" on the state's homeowners tax credit program to provide relief for taxpayers and have lowered the assessment cap on how much property assessments can rise each year.

John Munson, 65, Hagerstown

On keeping tuition down at Hagerstown Community College: He supports raising the commissioners' annual allocation to HCC. Currently, 30 percent of what the County Commissioners gives to the college is to keep tuition down.

Cooperation between the county and municipalities: Cooperation is good now, but he thinks the county should meet with the towns and City of Hagerstown at least once a month for two to three hours to discuss problems.

How to help senior citizens with health care and taxes: The county should consider different tax rates for seniors. "It's a tough situation," he said.

On his qualifications: He said he has four years of experience, and is able to work with financial matters. He also said he responds to all calls from county residents.

William J. Wivell, 42, Smithsburg

Providing tax relief to residents: Would support tax relief and has always tried to protect the taxpayer. He says he would consider refunds, but it's hard to say without knowing what the upcoming budget looks like.

Protecting the Antietam Creek Watershed/Chesapeake Bay by regulating runoff from farms: The county is already protecting the environment through the Washington County Soil Conservation District. Thinks, however, new environmental regulations in the county will be a big issue.

On transportation needs in the county: He thinks the county needs to keep ahead of the growth curve with road projects. The commissioners have put $5 million into the capital budget for road projects, but there are more than 800 miles of county roads that need to be monitored.

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