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Back from Annapolis, Serafini meets with community

April 12, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Without a campaign or even an election, Republican Andrew A. Serafini didn't shake hands or kiss babies on the way to becoming a state delegate.

His journey was compressed: Three weeks after Robert A. McKee resigned amid a police investigation, Serafini, his replacement, was sworn in by the House speaker in Annapolis.

On Friday, the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce gave the public a chance to meet the newest member of the county's state delegation.

"We would have done it earlier, but the guy was out of town," quipped Brien J. Poffenberger, the chamber's president.

With the legislative session freshly over, Serafini mingled with people -- many of whom he already knew -- who now will watch his performance as a representative.

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After a solid 90 minutes of meeting and greeting, Serafini sat and chatted about his tightly packed month in office.

He said he was surprised to end up in McKee's old seat on the House Ways and Means Committee, where Del. Susan W. Krebs, R-Carroll, was a mentor.

For the most part, Serafini said, he tried to heed advice to lay low and listen for a while.

One exception was a Ways and Means hearing on a bill sponsored by Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany.

Myers was trying to get approval for Washington County Public Schools to expand the fall sports season, which shrunk over the years as the first day of school moved up.

Drawing on his experience as a sports coach, Serafini spoke up a few times to make points during the hearing.

Serafini said delegation members, particularly Myers and Del. Christopher B. Shank, helped him quickly learn the ins and outs of legislation.

And there has been plenty to learn.

To some who stopped at Friday's free, casual event at Ava's on South Potomac Street, Serafini likened catching up to "drinking out of a fire hose."

He said he expected partisanship in Annapolis, where Republicans are firmly a minority in both houses, but added, "I think it was a little stronger than even I anticipated."

Some procedural and logistical uncertainties remain.

"Probably my biggest challenge is I'm still not comfortable with the tunnels," Serafini said, referring to the maze-like, often-used underground connections between the State House and the House and Senate buildings.

Serafini said he'll keep his local office at Williamsport Town Hall, where McKee had it.

Explaining the reception for Serafini, Poffenberger said, "One of the chamber's top priorities is advocacy."

As such, the chamber wants good relationships with its elected officials, he said.

He said the reception was a good way for people to establish rapport with Serafini in a relaxed way.

"You don't want the first time you call someone to be the time you need them," Poffenberger said.

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