Four seek Hancock council seats

January 21, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HANCOCK -- Economic revitalization, vacant Main Street storefronts and activities for youths are among the top issues as campaigns heat up for Hancock's Jan. 26 municipal election.

The two candidates for mayor, incumbent Dr. Daniel A. Murphy and Dr. Ralph T. Salvagno, were profiled in a Jan. 4 article. Here, the four candidates running for the two open town council seats are profiled.

Nigel Dardar

Occupation: Shipper at Staples distribution center in Hagerstown

Years in town: About seven

Priorities: Dardar said his top priority would be to represent all citizens and ensure the council's decisions are not swayed by a persuasive few. He said the current mayor and council have done a good job, but he feels other individuals in town have tried to use their political influence in self-serving ways.

He said if tenants cannot be found for vacant buildings on Main Street, the town should find other ways to make them more attractive in the meantime. Already, he has spoken with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra about contributing window displays promoting upcoming events and with a men's clothing shop about coming to Hancock for tuxedo fittings before the prom, he said.


Dardar said the town's purchase of the former Fleetwood Travel Trailers plant with a former resident's donation last summer was "an excellent move" and he would support keeping the property and continuing to attempt to lease it. He also supports a developer's efforts to build a shopping center at the east end of town and has been talking with the developer about how to make it happen, he said.

Qualifications: Dardar said his marketing and sales background taught him perseverance and honed the people-skills needed to make connections and promote the town. "My product used to be big diesel engines, and now my product is Hancock," he said.

He said he is an empathetic person who will work for all citizens, no matter their age or income level.

Dennis Hudson

Occupation: Owner of C&O Bicycle

Years in town: About four

Priorities: Hudson said his top priority as a council member would be to encourage more open communication between the council and residents.

"Sometimes I feel that maybe citizens don't feel comfortable approaching somebody," he said. "I'm a working-class guy, so I'm pretty approachable."

His other priorities would be to get tenants into the former Fleetwood building, to get owners to fix up vacant buildings on Main Street and to promote the town's recreational opportunities.

Hudson said many of the owners of the buildings on Main Street live outside of the county and it has been difficult to get in touch with them about chipping paint, cracked windows and other issues. He said he wants to see what the town can do legally to impose financial penalties for property neglect.

He was quick to acknowledge that promoting recreation would help his business, but he said it would help the town, too. He suggested looking beyond the Western Maryland Rail Trail and promoting the Potomac River.

Qualifications: Hudson said being a business owner has given him valuable experience, but he hasn't always owned businesses. "I understand what it's like to work for a paycheck," he said.

He said he is an approachable person who is ready to listen to residents' ideas.

Hudson is a member of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce and served as its vice president for two years.

More information:

Randy Pittman

Occupation: Owner of Pittmans Liquor and Weaver's Restaurant

Years in town: 65

Priorities: Pittman said his top campaign issue is "the deplorable state of Main Street," where boarded-up windows and lack of upkeep send a message that the town doesn't care. He said town government has failed to hold absentee landlords accountable for their properties.

"There's no point in talking about industry or anything else until you have the place cleaned up to the point where someone's gonna want to show up and invest money in your community," he said.

Pittman said he would see that streets were power washed and seek to enact an ordinance that would fine property owners if they do not clean up their properties.

Pittman said he also would like to see the town provide more support to the Western Maryland Rail Trail, such as creating an open corridor from the Rail Trail to Main Street, as recommended by an impact study a few years ago.

Pittman criticized the progress of the current administration.

"They've been here, and we have the same issues now that we did when they showed up," he said. "It's time for a new direction."

Qualifications: Pittman, who served two terms on the council from 1999 to 2007, said his business experience helps him make money-saving financial decisions for the town.

"You have to know where you have to spend, where you get your best return on your dollar," he said.

Pittman is a member of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce.

Jeffrey Ratcliffe

Occupation: Truck driver

Years in town: 17

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