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Voters Guide - Washington County Commissioners

October 30, 2006

Washington County Commissioners



Salary: $30,000 per year. President of the board makes $33,000 per year.

Term: Four years

The following questions were asked to the candidates for Washington County Commissioners.

1. Do you support charter home rule? Why or why not.

2. What can the county do to address the affordable housing issue?

3. What is your plan to preserve agricultural land?

4. Why should people vote for you?




Kristin B. Aleshire, 31

Hagerstown
Democrat

1. Although my personal opinion is that some form of home rule is the natural progression that a county should move toward over time, I support the decision of the will of the people that will ultimately, and rightly so, make this decision through their vote. If this endeavor is successful, I would further support to the public that charter form of home rule is the most appropriate type of home rule for a local government.

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2. I believe I am the only current candidate to submit a detailed follow up to the county on the Affordable Workforce Housing Committee report. From that report, I worked with city staff to pass many of the 12 identified initiatives, and outlined in my response those items, which I believe would be appropriate for the county to implement. We need commissioners that aren't going to simply shelve the reports we commission our citizens to do.

3. I believe in a viable local farming industry being the first priority in preservation of agricultural land. This means using our economic development efforts to promote the local consumer markets as well as providing incentives for diversifying our farms. Unlike spending government funds to simply keep vacant land vacant, we need to do our part as citizens to purchase more goods from our local farm community so this heritage and land may be long enjoyed.

4. Support me because I will:

- Protect our finite water and sewer resources.

- Expand our educational opportunities.

- Promote economic business initiatives.

- Support our public safety personnel.

- Develop quality transportation systems.

- Be sincere in achieving fiscal responsibility.

- Enhance our recreational amenities.

- Plan for balancing residential growth.

- Diligently analyze all sides of every issue.

- Listen openly to ideas presented on their merit.

- Preserve our historic cultural heritage.




Terry Baker, 50

Clear Spring
Republican

1. I am aware 50 percent of Maryland counties have charter home rule and 50 percent do not. Our county has a study committee working on this issue. I will formulate an opinion after reading that report. Whatever the report of the committee, I would urge that the issue go to referendum and the citizens make the decision.

2. A. Housing that is beyond the limits of the individual to purchase.

B. Any incentives should have caps on the amount of government tax money involved. Also, who are the qualifying groups and how will the groups be defined. Any incentive must be capped, and again how is the group defined.

3. One idea to help conserve farmland is to permit transfer of developmental rights to areas with a high density (planned growth areas). Example: A farmer in a rural area could sell his developmental rights to the county. The county then sells the developmental rights to a developer, permitting additional houses in smart growth zones. Some of the money the county receives from the developer goes to the rural farmer to protect the rural heritage.

4. I'm a lifelong resident of Washington County. I want to guarantee forward-thinking leadership in the next four years with honesty and respect for our citizens. I will listen to the citizens of Washington County. If elected, I will support managed growth, public education, lower taxes with effective management of public funds, funding of services for public safety, programs to assist seniors, land preservation programs and expansion of parks and recreation for our citizens.




John F. Barr, 53

Hagerstown
Republican

1. I wholeheartedly support home rule. As a member of the task force assigned by the commissioners in 2005 to review this, our unanimous decision was to recommend to proceed. After spending five months studying and reviewing other Maryland counties that have code home and charter home rule, along with many internal discussions, it's apparent home rule options for Washington County would be beneficial, would allow better access to local government procedures, decisions and local control.

2. With the current average lot price in excess of $100,000 in Washington County along with impact fees, assessment fees and the ever-increasing permits, inspections and engineering fees, affordable housing has become unattainable for many local citizens. A combination of finding existing open, unused or abandoned properties in conjunction with possible re-evaluation of impact fees based upon square footage numbers, density issues and tax incentives are just a few viable options.

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