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Thanks to all who helped voters make hard choices

November 10, 2006

Now that the 2006 election is entering the history books, it is time to acknowledge some of the good things that happened during the cycle just ended.

A new partnership was formed, between The Herald-Mail, the League of Women Voters of Washington County (LWV), Hagerstown Community College (HCC) and Antietam Cable TV.

Working together, the staffs of all four organizations put on televised candidate forums before and after the primaries.

The HCC students who acted as moderators during the post-primary forums deserve special praise for their professional demeanor. That's due in no small part to the work of Spring Ward, an associate professor of American government and political science.

Antietam Cable Television was also a major player in the effort to educate voters, providing crews to videotape all of the forums and airtime for repeat broadcasts of them. That's a major commitment of resources for the community's benefit.

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We also applaud the efforts of the League, whose members did a great job of helping to plan all of the forums and moderating some of them. The League also put out its traditional voters guide, which citizens have come to look to for factual, unbiased information about the candidates.

Breaking with recent tradition was the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, which held its own series of forums, produced its own voters guide and endorsed candidates.

The Greater Hagerstown Committee also held forums, which were noteworthy because they explored some issues of the sort not always thought of as political, including the proposed expansion of the Washington County Free Library.

And last but not least, there were the candidates. For the most part, they ran clean, issue-oriented campaigns that educated the voters on their concerns and their abilities. Not all of those endorsed by The Herald-Mail won their races, but none of those who were elected fill us with dread about what they might do.

We have two pieces of advice to the winners regarding those who were not victorious:

· Some ideas brought up by those who did not win deserve additional study. Paul Swartz's proposal to grant scholarships to county high school graduates might be affordable or it might not. But such a program would make the county stand out as a place that values college-level education enough to devote significant tax dollars to it.

Also, Donna Brightman's proposal for a Council of Governments might not work as she had envisioned it, but it points out the need for better communication between county government and some of the outlying areas.

· And speaking of Brightman, isn't there some role in government for a candidate who worked so hard to win a job serving local residents? Certainly there is an advisory board that could make use of her talents and those of others who didn't garner enough votes to win.

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