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At forum, 6th District Congressional candidates take on top issues

October 24, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- The three candidates for Maryland's 6th District race in Congress on Thursday offered their prescriptions for the economy, health care and energy independence.

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., and his two challengers in the Nov. 4 election - Democrat Jennifer Dougherty and Libertarian Gary W. Hoover Sr. - spoke at a candidate forum sponsored by The Herald-Mail Co., Antietam Cable Television and Hagerstown Community College.

HCC hosted the event.

Bartlett, 82, is running for his ninth two-year term in Congress. He lives near Frederick, Md.

Dougherty, 47, served one term as Frederick's mayor from 2002 to 2006. She lives in Frederick.

Hoover, 50, is running for public office for the first time. He lives in Clear Spring.

The following are some of the questions and portions of their answers.

Q: What will it take to turn around the U.S. economy?

Hoover: Create jobs, which can be done by expanding the use of alternative fuels.

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Dougherty: Focus "like a laser beam" on creating new jobs, including infrastructure jobs and "green-collar" jobs.

Bartlett: I voted against the bailout bill, instead preferring a plan that includes unlimited insurance for savings accounts.

Q: What benchmarks would you set before the U.S. can withdraw the bulk of its troops in Iraq?

Dougherty: The benchmarks, such as establishing a government and a police force, have been achieved. Instead, the U.S. is spending billions of dollars a month on the war and U.S. soldiers are dying there.

Bartlett: There should be an events table, covering milestones such as what security forces or laws are needed, that Americans can follow and monitor.

Hoover: The U.S. has done all it can do. The objectives have been met and American soldiers should be brought home.

Q: Do you favor a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget?

Bartlett: Every time a bill like that has come up, I've voted in favor of it. We have to get our spending under control.

Hoover: I'm "150 percent" in favor. There have been a lot of promises about reducing the cost of government, but nothing has been done.

Dougherty: Every state and local government has a balanced budget, including Frederick when I was mayor. We need a five-year plan to balance the budget.

Q: What are two main accomplishments you've had politically or personally?

Hoover: I've been married 22 years and I've raised four children. Also, living in this country's economy.

Dougherty: The development of Carroll Creek during my four years as mayor of Frederick. Also, creating neighborhood advisory councils that meet regularly with city department heads.

Bartlett: I'm seen as a leader in Congress on three topics - fossil fuels and renewable energy, ethical embryonic stem-cell research, and electromagnetic pulse, a type of weapon that could damage the country.

Q: Do you see health care as an important issue? If so, what type of reform do you support?

Bartlett: It's hugely important; costs are rising two to three times the rate of inflation. We should have no-fault insurance and an awards court to compensate for injuries.

Hoover: It should be a top priority for Congress. We should reform frivolous lawsuits and make sure everyone can afford health insurance, perhaps by opening up the system Congress has.

Dougherty: All Americans should have insurance coverage within five years through employers or private plans. Family coverage should include children 18 to 24 years old; those 55 or older should be able to buy into Medicare.

Q: What's the biggest change you would push for in the 6th District?

Bartlett: I'd like it to be a leader in alternative energy; the world already has reached its maximum oil production.

Hoover: More good jobs, which can happen through alternative energy sources such as wind, biofuels and nuclear power. Also, extend Metro or light rail service to Frederick, then Hagerstown, and widen Interstate 70.

Dougherty: The 6th District is a good place for a biofuels refinery that could turn switchgrass or algae into E85 ethanol fuel.

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