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5 meet council filing requirements

January 18, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Only five people have met the filing requirements to run for Hagerstown City Council in the March 10 primary election.

People are required to file at City Hall and the Washington County Board of Elections by Jan. 23 for their candidacies to become official.

All five council seats are up for grabs.

According to election documents, the official council candidates are Democrats Alesia D. Parson-McBean and Joseph Marschner, and Republicans Patrick Crist, Forrest Easton and Jeremy Manford.

Parson-McBean is an incumbent.

Democrat David Gysberts and Republican Ruth Ann Holtzman are the official candidates for mayor.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner -- both incumbents -- have filed at City Hall but not with the Board of Elections.

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Gysberts, 31, of 795 Hamilton Blvd., said he chose to run because the existing administration is poorly led.

"This city needs fresh, new leadership," said Gysberts, who has served on the City Planning Commission for the past two years. "The city staff does a good job ... What we don't have is good elected leadership."

He said too many Hagerstown residents have to commute to other areas to earn a high enough wage to pay their mortgages. To solve that problem, Gysberts wants to create conditions that will attract high-paying jobs, he said.

Easing zoning restrictions in former industrial areas of the city and creating broadband by power line as a utility are a few of the things the city could do to help attract developers, Gysberts said. Tax credits should work as well, he said.

"It's about bringing new ideas," he said. "We need to create conditions that will help developers, yet maintain the quality of life."

Gysberts said he works as a counselor for Montgomery County Public Schools. He holds a bachelor's degree in liberal studies and a master's degree in counseling from West Virginia University.

Gysberts said he has lived in Hagerstown for most of his life.

Marschner, 40, of 522 Summit Ave., is a professor of music, drama and the humanities at Hagerstown Community College.

He earned a master's degree in modern humanities from Frostburg State University and a bachelor's degree in music composition from Shepherd University.

Marschner said he doesn't want to be negative, but several council members have their own agenda that distracts them from looking at the city as a whole.

Although effort needs to be put into developing downtown so residents don't have to live in a community with a "rotting center," the city cannot overlook residents who earn a less-than-modest income, Marschner said.

Marschner also said he favors bringing high-paying jobs to the city.

"I see potential growth," he said. "I think we can do a better job to build partnerships between the public and private sectors."

Manford, 24, of 913 Chestnut St., said he has lived in Hagerstown most of his life.

"I watch the council people on TV and they look dysfunctional," he said. "All they do is argue."

Manford, who paints cars at Al's Body Shop in Martinsburg, W.Va., said the next administration should focus on making the "old rules better, rather than making tons of new ones."

A self-professed "regular fella," Manford said he would like to see downtown shops stay open longer to attract more people.

"Downtown needs some nightlife," he said. "Everything is closed."

Manford is a graduate of Washington County Technical High School.

Holtzman, 65, of 1076 Lindsay Lane, and Parson-McBean, 44, who lists her address as City Hall, could not be reached for comment.

In a Herald-Mail story that was published last week, Crist and Easton, who filed well before the others, said they were dissatisfied with the current council.

The other candidates will be interviewed when they file at City Hall and the Board of Elections.

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