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City Council candidates discuss city's problems

February 07, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- All five seats on the Hagerstown City Council are up for grabs this year, and all five incumbents along with nine others have filed to run for the open positions.

According to the city's charter, the top five vote-getters on the Democratic and Republican sides of the ballot will advance from the March 10 primary to the May 19 general election.

Kaye Robucci, deputy director of the Washington County Board of Elections, said a Republican primary will not be held this year because only four Republicans -- Patrick N. Crist, Forrest W. Easton, Jeremy L. Manford and Donald K. Mohar -- filed to run.

Nine candidates will face off in the Democratic primary, with the top five advancing.

Those candidates are R. Noel Brady, William M. Breichner, Martin E. Brubaker, Kelly S. Cromer, David A. Lidz, Joseph A. Marschner, Lewis C. Metzner, Penny M. Nigh and Alesia D. Parson-McBean.

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Brubaker, Cromer, Metzner, Nigh and Parson-McBean are the incumbents.

Ashley C. Haywood, who is not affiliated with a political party, automatically will advance to the general election.

Robucci said Friday the Board of Elections confirmed Haywood had gathered the signatures of 250 registered voters in the city to make her candidacy official.

Unlike Democrats and Republicans, Robucci said, unaffiliated candidates are required to collect no fewer than 250 signatures from registered voters to run.

The winning candidates will take office June 1, said Donna Spickler, clerk for the City of Hagerstown. Each council member earns $8,000 per year.




The following is the first of four questions that candidates for Hagerstown City Council were asked to answer, followed by the candidates' responses.

Candidates were asked to keep their responses to 150 words or less. Responses were edited for length and to fix typos or errors. Otherwise, they are as received from the candidates.

Question: What is the biggest problem facing the City of Hagerstown and, if elected, what will you do to solve it?

Democrats



R. Noel Brady, 68

Democrat

40 E. Antietam St.

The biggest problem facing the City of Hagerstown is the same problem facing the state and federal governments, the loss of revenue.

With our country facing a recession, the federal government is cutting funding to the states, the state (is) cutting funding to local governments. The new City Council will be facing a short fall of funds and will have to curb spending money frivolously as they have in the past.

With businesses closing, people losing their jobs and their homes, the city will be losing a great deal of tax money needed to run the city. If I'm elected to the City Council I will look for ways to accomplish the projects that need to be done with less money and within the city's budget. Make sure the city is financially responsible and keep spending in check. Failure to do these things will be (a) catastrophe to the people of Hagerstown.

William M. Breichner, 77

Democrat

1117 Oak Hill Ave.

The need to restore the central core of the city. This will involve a number of steps such as:

(1) Developing a program that would freeze city real estate taxes for a reasonable period of time on major commercial and residential improvements as well as exemption fees to encourage new investment.

(2) Provide additional police officers dedicated to the downtown area in order to (convince) residents and the public working and doing business there, that the area is safe and secure.

(3) Modernize zoning and codes to allow for rehabilitation and modernization of structures in the downtown and to allow for the services needed for convenient residential living such as grocer, dry cleaners, news agency, parking, delivery services and sundries.

(4) The City needs to be willing to assist the efforts of institutions such as the University, Theater, Library, County Government and Banks to meet their improvement needs.

Martin E. Brubaker, 62

Democrat, Incumbent

183 Brynwood St.

Dual County/City tax burden for property owners and potential new residential/businesses.

Solutions: 

o Grow tax base by working towards vibrant, functional downtown; healthy residential neighborhoods; restoration of neglected industrial, commercial properties; smart annexation policies; and quality projects in growth areas, with developer and State/Federal assistance for related infrastructure.

o Seek efficiency/cost savings, while maintaining service levels, in delivery of City services and proposed City projects.

o Aggressive efforts to secure non-tax investment and funding sources. If we don't participate, funds will only go to other communities.

o Explore more equitable solutions with County to compensate for City services, share in economic development within Urban Growth Area, and allocation of capital project expenditures.

o When economic growth resumes, devote a portion of revenue growth/expenditure savings from above items to tax relief. This initiative is a matter of fairness to households and business while making the City more economically competitive.

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