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City Council candidates have their say with Dem committee

December 05, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

HAGERSTOWN - The six candidates seeking to fill a vacancy on the Hagerstown City Council on Monday acknowledged that growth can't be stopped, but they said controls can be put in place to manage it.

Each candidate was interviewed before the Washington County Democratic Central Committee and will be interviewed tonight by the council.

The county Democratic Central Committee this week will recommend a candidate to fill Kristin B. Aleshire's seat, treasurer Donnie Souders Jr. said.

"The city council is under no obligation to take our recommendation," Souders said.

The city council plans to fill the vacant seat, created when Aleshire won election as a Washington County commissioner, by Dec. 19.

· Henry R. Renner Jr., the first person to interview with the county central committee, pointed out concerns about water service. Renner, of 226 Bryan Place, said 80 percent of water in the county is provided by the city.

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Renner feels there should be higher taxes for developers, saying they do nothing for the business owners. He feels business owners should have the same tax relief.

Renner described the future of downtown as "the land of pleasant living."

· Walter E. "Nick" Carter said that if selected to be a councilman, he would continue the city's initiative to rehabilitate vacant buildings. He said old buildings should be purchased, refurbished and "put to good use."

"Everywhere you look, you see empty buildings," said Carter, of 1009 Salem Ave.

Carter encouraged more open meetings between the county and city, shying away from the current 2-plus-2 committee meetings.

"I think if there are five people on the council, it takes all five of you to iron out the problems," Carter said.

· Ralph Mauriello, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., said the concept of a paid fire department "makes some sense."

"It's something that has to be listened to," said Mauriello, of 753 Spruce St.

He said listening would be a key part of his approach in working with other members of council.

"You have to work with everybody," Mauriello said. "I'm not the kind of person who sits on an opinion and that's it."

He said that, other than for seniors, homeownership should be the result of perhaps working more than one job rather than receiving city financial assistance.

"The market is what it is. ... If you don't have the means to get what you want, you have to work a bit harder," said Mauriello, who "thoroughly enjoy(s) seeing the growth here."

· David Scott Gysberts, who is "a fourth-generation Hagerstonian at least," said he is a potential force to bring people together to fulfill the city's potential.

He sees the council's upcoming priorities as growth; deregulation of the electric industry; water and sewer capacity; and cooperation with the county and developers, "especially along the borders of Hagerstown."

He expressed a desire for better communication with the county staff and commissioners.

"I like the idea of consolidated services if it's possible. ... I don't understand what the rancor is if we're serving people," said Gysberts, of 795 Hamilton Blvd.

Gysberts said he would scrutinize the budget, saying that he "can't spend any more than I bring in at home."

· Christina A. Davis previously served as a council member and vice mayor of Riverdale, Md., and said she wants to use that experience to serve the Hagers-town constituents.

As a councilwoman, Davis said she would talk to the Chamber of Commerce and business owners, as well as attempt to "stop the perception of the quagmire council." She expressed a desire to tour the police and fire departments to ask "realistically, within budget constraints" what the emergency responders need in the next 10 years.

Rather than devaluing the housing stock, the city needs jobs that pay well, said Davis, of 815 The Terrace.

· Martin E. Brubaker said he has a deep interest in public affairs, listing his work as a volunteer and board member with different agencies.

The city needs to take advantage of a "lull in growth" to get a handle on the rules and regulations associated with it, Brubaker said. That will leave the city better prepared for the next round of growth, he said.

"I think Hagerstown and Washington County have been noticed in the greater metropolitan area now," said Brubaker, of 1016 Lindsay Lane.

He said the city staff and government need to "establish more of an ongoing dialogue" with their counterparts at the county level. That involves staying aware of opportunities like businesses that cold "be magnets" to boost downtown commerce.

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