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Three vie for seat on Berkeley Co. Commission

October 18, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Klaus Heitmann said he will not accept the $36,960 salary that comes with being a Berkeley County commissioner if voters choose him over Republican incumbent Steven C. Teufel and Democrat Anthony Petrucci.

Heitmann, 50, of 143 Confederate Drive in the Martinsburg area, said he has not accepted any contributions or spent any money on his campaign other than the $360 filing fee required to run for a six-year term on the commission as the Mountain Party's candidate.

"I want to do it at no charge," Heitmann said. "I'd like to have the money, but that's not the point. That's not why I want to do it."

According to the most recent campaign finance reports filed in September with Berkeley County Clerk John W. Small Jr.'s office, Teufel spent $2,226 on his campaign and Petrucci spent $8,403.

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Petrucci, 47, of 59 Collins Drive near Martinsburg, considers his years of experience in business "very important" to being able to manage the county's finances. He also cited his service to the community and participation on Berkeley County's planning commission and farmland protection board.

"I'm hoping people will look at the overall picture (of) the person ..." Petrucci said.

Only one seat of the three-member panel is up for grabs this election.

If elected to a second term, Teufel, 49, of 802 Honeysuckle Drive in Martinsburg, said he would continue to be responsible with taxpayers' money.

"Whether I'm elected or not elected, I still want financial responsibility to be there and for the taxpayers to know that, 'Hey, everything's secure," Teufel said.

Teufel defended the levy rate increase enacted by the commission this year, saying the economic slowdown led to the increase. He noted the increase came after six consecutive decreases.

Petrucci said he would tap into his business background to try to improve the county's economy.

"... In order to get your housing market back on track, you've got to go with your economic development programs with business, starting with small business associations ... and also working with your development authority ... to move forward with some of your bigger projects ... to help control our tax base," he said.

Heitmann said he would be a "fresh face" on the commission and would advocate that property tax assessments be re-evaluated on a yearly basis to more accurately reflect decreases in property values.

"I believe that my experience here at Quad/Graphics, running the information systems department here, helps make me a viable candidate to be able to fulfill the duties of (commissioner)," Heitmann said of his experience working for the large Berkeley County employer.

If elected, Petrucci said he would push for having county commission meetings at different locations in the county "once every quarter or once every six months or whatever we could do (legally) to bring the commission to the people." He also said he would be available at his business to respond to residents' concerns.

Heitmann said he favored having commission meetings broadcast on local public access television channels.

Teufel said he remains committed to being fair with people, open with them and giving them an opportunity to voice their concerns.

"People ought to vote for me because I care," Teufel said. "They know I'm going to do what's in the best interest of Berkeley County."

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