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Candidates want to improve city

February 06, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

Editor's note: The Herald-Mail last month published two stories highlighting some of the views of all but two of the 18 candidates who are vying for mayor or a seat on the city council in Hagerstown.

Ann Holtzman, a Republican candidate for mayor, was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

Unaffiliated candidate Ashley C. Haywood, who is seeking a seat on the city council, was not interviewed because she was in the process of gathering signatures for a petition to qualify her to run.

HAGERSTOWN --

Ann Holtzman, 65
1076 Lindsay Lane

Mayoral candidate Ann Holtzman will square off against incumbent Robert E. Bruchey II and Jonathan R. Burrs in the Republican primary on March 10.

The top vote-getter will advance to the general election on May 19.

Holtzman said she fell in love with Hagerstown after she moved here in 1974 from Montgomery County, Md.

"I began my career in Hagerstown as the first female Allstate Insurance agent in the country," she said.

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Holtzman said she opened her own Allstate branch on Edgewood Drive in 1986 and, by the time she retired in 2001, was in the top 3 percent in growth accounts among 1,500 agents across the United States.

She said she can use her business experience to help the city succeed and decided to run for mayor to bring cooperation and professionalism to city council meetings.

The city government needs to curb the number of businesses that are closing downtown by offering more help, Holtzman said.

"We need to find out what they need," she said.

Holtzman said she became a single mother to her two young sons when she was divorced in 1981 and knows what it is like to make ends meet.

If elected, Holtzman said she would continue to make improvements in the downtown area and also would fix up other neighborhoods by having the city's high school students do the work as part of their Student Service Learning requirement.

"It would make them take pride in their neighborhoods," Holtzman said.

In 1991, Holtzman co-founded the Hagerstown City Police Victim Assistance Unit to provide comfort and aid to crime victims.

"It's strictly volunteer," she said. "... I'm well aware of numerous crime and safety issues facing Hagerstown and will continue to work with the City Police officials to facilitate increased efforts to ensure citizen and community safety."

Holtzman said she graduated from United High School in Armaugh, Pa., and attended college.

Ashley C. Haywood, 24
629 Oak Hill Ave.

Unaffiliated candidate Ashley C. Haywood, who is seeking a seat on the city council, gathered the required 250 signatures on a petition to qualify her to run in the general election.

Because Haywood is an unaffiliated candidate, she automatically advances to the general election, said Kaye Robucci, deputy director of the Washington County Board of Elections.

A Hagerstown native, Haywood said she graduated magna cum laude from Dickinson College with a double major in psychology and sociology.

After spending a few years doing research in London and New York City, Haywood said she returned to Hagerstown in 2007 and opened the Skyline Coffee Co. at 2 W. Washington St.

Haywood said she has firsthand knowledge of the roadblocks that stand in the way of downtown entrepreneurs. For starters, she said, the city doesn't hold landlords accountable for maintaining their buildings.

Haywood said a landlord told her a few years ago when she tried to open the coffee shop that she had to fix plumbing that had been neglected for more than 30 years.

"It's the responsibility of the building owners to maintain their properties," Haywood said.

The city also needs to cut through the red tape that makes it too difficult for business owners to get renovation permits, she said.

Haywood said she would try to disband the city's Historic District Commission, an organization that was created in the 1980s to approve applications from developers who want to improve the exterior of historic buildings. The commission hinders progress, she said.

As an unaffiliated candidate, Haywood had to gather 250 signatures from registered city voters to validate her candidacy.

Haywood said her campaign knocked on about 1,500 doors to ensure she would gather the needed amount.

"Now more than ever, we need faith in our local politicians," Haywood said. "I don't think the current council has conducted itself in a manner to have that faith ... I want to improve my city."

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