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Candidates make final push

November 02, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - Candidates for state offices faced questions about land preservation, health care and how to project a "business friendly" image during a chamber of commerce forum Wednesday.

Moderator Suzanne Hayes gave the eight candidates time for answers but not head-on debate.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said he appreciated that he and other unopposed candidates were included, which hasn't been the case at some forums.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce sponsored the forum at the Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway.

Other unopposed candidates were Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, and Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

Candidates in contested races were Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, and Republican Paul Muldowney in Subdistrict 2C; Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, and Democrat Brian K. Grim in Subdistrict 1C; and George C. Edwards, a Republican running in Senate District 1.

Those are among many local, state and federal races on Tuesday.

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For the most part, candidates reiterated stances they've publicly taken more than once during the campaign.

In fact, the candidates had answered most questions previously in a chamber questionnaire. Still, the audience of about 50 people got to see them explain their points in person, with tight time limits.

For Maryland, the first rule of avoiding a bad national reputation is: "Don't pass goofy legislation," Muldowney said, referring to a bill requiring Wal-Mart to provide better health care to its employees.

Donoghue, though, said he supported the bill because, otherwise, the public picks up the tab for underinsured Wal-Mart employees and their families.

Some questions, such as how county and state elected officials should work together, produced inexact answers.

But candidates' views were clear when asked about home rule, a system of letting local government have more authority over laws and taxes.

Most candidates said they support the concept. Donoghue said it's a shame that Washington County residents have to trek to Annapolis to testify about bills best handled locally.

Shank said it's up to voters to decide whether to have home rule.

Grim said he has no position on home rule and wants to hear more from the public.

Only Munson said no. "I oppose home rule," he said. "It's not yet an idea whose time has come."

The forum was part of the chamber's "Decision '06" series. Other forums have included candidates for U.S. Senate and Washington County Commissioners.

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