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More than 150 attend candidates' forum

The candidates for Washington County state's attorney said why they are qualified for the position

The candidates for Washington County state's attorney said why they are qualified for the position

October 19, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - The two candidates for Washington County state's attorney presented their cases Wednesday during a forum that also covered other local election races.

Republican Charles P. Strong Jr., who was appointed state's attorney in 2004, is facing Democrat Jerry Joyce, a defense lawyer.

Asked to explain why they are qualified for the position, Strong spoke mainly of his leadership and focus, while Joyce said his "real-world" experience gives him an edge in versatility and rapport.

The state's attorney portion of the forum followed an hour of questioning of the 10 candidates for Washington County Commissioners.

The two Washington County sheriff candidates went on stage last, also to face questions.

Hagerstown Community College, the League of Women Voters of Washington County, Antietam Cable Television and The Herald-Mail sponsored the forum at HCC's Kepler Theater.

Political science students at HCC helped organize and moderate the forum.

More than 150 people watched in person. The forum was shown live on Antietam Cable and will be rebroadcast.

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A second forum - for candidates running for Washington County Board of Education and Maryland delegate subdistricts 1C and 2C - will be held at HCC today at 7 p.m.

The general election is Nov. 7.

Strong, 59, of Hagerstown, said he has more than 25 years' experience and has prosecuted more than 1,000 cases, including murders and other serious crimes. Part of that time, he prosecuted Washington County Narcotics Task Force cases.

"I strive to serve victims, not defense attorneys or special interests," Strong said.

He said he has cut down on the backlog in court cases, giving the county one of the more streamlined dockets in the state.

Strong said he is planning to launch a court that handles drug offenses and has worked with the board of education and the Department of Social Services on a truancy program.

Outside of the courtroom, the county's top prosecutor must link agencies on programs such as mediation and alcohol treatment, he said.

Joyce, 58, of Hagerstown, said lawyers who grow up with privilege have a distant "ivory-tower mentality."

His humbler path in life - working in a steel mill, pouring concrete, driving trucks - makes him "well-rounded" and "comfortable" with many types of people, Joyce said.

He said he knows both sides of the courtroom, having been both a defense attorney and a prosecutor. His 30 years of law and other experience includes jobs investigating crime and fraud, he said.

Joyce pledged leadership, vision and passion if he's elected. He said a prosecutor can't sit in an office and form committees while violent crime occurs around him.

The state's attorney's term is four years. The salary is $100,350.

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