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Landowners' PAC raised about $8,000

December 08, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The political arm of a group championing landowners' rights raised and spent almost $8,000 in the last Washington County Commissioners election.

Citizens to Protect Rights - a nonprofit organization that formed in 2003 to oppose more restrictive zoning for rural land - formed a separate political action committee.

The only PAC registered with the Washington County Board of Elections in the last election, Citizens to Protect Rights PAC took in $7,913.65 and spent most of it to support five commissioners candidates.

The PAC donated its final $117.90 to the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum and closed its account last month.

CPR Chairman Thomas Berry of Rohrersville said his group wanted to defeat the three commissioners who voted for tighter zoning that keeps dense development out of rural areas.

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Of the three, Gregory I. Snook, didn't seek re-election and Doris J. Nipps lost the Republican primary in September.

The third, James F. Kercheval, won another four-year term.

After interviewing candidates and studying their platforms, CPR PAC endorsed Terry Baker, John F. Barr, William J. Wivell, John C. Munson and N. Linn Hendershot in the Nov. 7 general election.

Hendershot is a Democrat; the rest are Republicans. Wivell and Munson were incumbents.

Barr, Baker and Wivell won, but Kercheval did, too, so CPR and its PAC consider the election a "partial victory," Berry said.

He said he doesn't think the three CPR PAC-backed candidates can overturn the zoning restrictions, but "at least it won't get any worse."

The largest contribution to CPR PAC was $3,080 from Bragunier Masonry Contractors in Clear Spring.

John R. Hoffman of Clear Spring gave $1,000, Adna B. Fulton of Hagerstown gave $800 and James E. Reed of Big Pool gave $700.

The only money from outside the area came from James C. Doub of Baltimore, who gave $400. Berry said Doub has family and owns land in Washington County.

Campaign finance records show that the PAC's largest expense - about $5,100 - was for full-page newspaper ads to support the candidates it endorsed.

Berry said CPR's next big issue is home rule, which is a county's ability to establish more of its own laws. If CPR doesn't like how the effort is going, it might form another PAC for the next election, he said.

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