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Three seek City Council seats

January 07, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- No one has filed to run for Hagerstown's mayoral seat, but three candidates have filed to run for the five City Council seats that will be up for grabs in the March primary election.

Prospective candidates must file before Jan. 23 at City Hall or at the Washington County Board of Elections.

The three candidates who have filed for council are Democratic incumbent Lewis C. Metzner and Republicans Patrick Crist and Forrest Easton.

Crist, 45, of 906 Maryland Ave., said he has lived in Hagerstown for about 10 years and decided to run because he believes the current council fails to follow through on good ideas.

"I believe the City of Hagerstown needs (council members) with vision and fortitude to make that happen," Crist said.

If elected, Crist said he wants to continue developing downtown by finding investors to rehabilitate abandoned buildings. He said he also wants to promote growth in other areas of the city.

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To make that happen, Crist said, the city has to form a positive relationship with residents and business professionals. "The city can't do everything on its own," he said.

Crist said he also wants to see the city do more to help poor families get back on their feet.

Crist is the vice president of marketing for Crist Instrument Co., a business that has produced medical research equipment in Hagerstown since 1999.

Easton, 34, of 24 Willard St., said he chose to seek a seat on the council because he is dissatisfied with the current administration. Watching the council meetings on Channel 6 has given him the impression the city's elected officials have no respect for each other or for the residents who come to the council for help, he said.

"It's amazing to me how unprofessional the current administration is and how they conduct business," Easton said. "They are an embarrassment to the city ... They degrade business people who bring fresh ideas. That's not how you move forward."

Easton said he wants to see the city grow at a controlled rate.

"We need to maintain responsible growth and fight developers who want to raise nothing but big-box stores," he said.

Easton also proposed cutting spending to save money. To do this, he said the council should consider moving the dates of its future elections.

Last year, the Washington County Board of Elections estimated that the city could save about $60,000 by moving the municipal elections to coincide with the gubernatorial or presidential ones.

In addition, the council should reduce the $4,000 in expense money each council member is allowed to spend annually to conduct city business, he said.

"The (council) keeps spending despite the economy," he said.

Easton has lived in Hagerstown for a decade and works at Service Coordination Inc., a company that monitors state-funded services for people with developmental disabilities. He said he has bachelor's degrees in political science and justice studies, and a master's degree in human science.

Metzner, 56, of 322 E. Irvin Ave., is seeking his fourth term on the council.

A lifelong resident of Hagerstown, Metzner said some of his greatest accomplishments on the council include rehabilitating Fairgrounds Park, helping create the University System of Maryland-Hagerstown, maintaining the annual fireworks display on July 4 and organizing trips for World War II veterans to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Metzner said he wants to continue to control growth and spending.

"I think we've made a great deal of progress," Metzner said. "I enjoy it."

Metzner said he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland and a law degree from the University of Baltimore. He practices law in the city.

The primary election will be March 10.

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