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Bringing Hagerstown together

February 07, 2009|By FORREST EASTON

As a more formal introduction than provided by The Herald-Mail, I would like to offer a brief background to the citizens who will be heading to the election polls this spring to select the next mayor and council to serve the City of Hagerstown.

My name is Forrest Easton. My wife and I have called Hagerstown home since graduating from college more than 10 years ago. We met through our employment at the Shriver Center's Americorp Choice Program, a local service organization created to improve the lives of "at risk" youth. I served as the coordinator of the Washington County office for five years.

My educational background includes a degree from the Allegany College of Maryland in criminal justice in 1995. From there, I transferred to Frostburg State University and earned my bachelor's degree in political science and in justice studies in 1996. Since moving to Hagerstown in 1998, I have also earned a master's degree in human science from Hood College. In addition to this course work, I have had the opportunity to take MBA classes at the University System of Maryland in downtown Hagerstown, and would offer that this experience has provided me some firsthand knowledge of what an important asset these educational opportunities are to citizens.

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I am originally from Cumberland, Md., where, while I was growing up, civic responsibility was instilled in me by my parents, who tirelessly took in and cared for a countless number of foster children. This passion for community service has only grown as I have become more involved in my civic duties to make this community a positive place to live, visit and conduct business. I exercise these duties through both my professional career and my volunteerism.

Since leaving my position with the Choice Program in 2003, I have been employed as a senior service coordinator for a nonprofit organization, Service Coordination Inc. This position allows me to advocate on behalf of local citizens with disabilities by locating services and assisting residents with developmental disabilities to live enviable lives. However, over time I have learned that to be truly successful at having a lasting positive impact on the community, involvement in local organizations that support these worthy goals is just as important.

I have served on the board of the Jaycees of Hagerstown. Last year, I attended the Neighborhoods College program to get a better understanding of the day-to-day activities of Hagerstown. I am also a member of the Washington County Guardianship Advisory Board, Washington County Disabilities Advisory Committee and the Community Based Practice committee. As a current board member and active member of the Kiwanis Club of Hagerstown, I hope to assist this spring with projects at Holly Place, building a hospice garden and building a bocce court with MIHI for Special Olympics. I am also looking forward to assisting Special Olympics of Washington County with fundraising for 2009 and beyond.

I have decided to run for city council because I believe that my experience in public service and sincere desire to be fully invested in activities that give back to the community offers the citizens of this great city the representation they deserve. I believe that most citizens understand and respect that it takes more than skills in management and diversity to conduct meetings to positively move issues forward - it takes common sense, decency, humility, decorum and most important, social diplomacy. I would offer exactly this approach that does not serve to marginalize the efforts of our community, but rather creates a city governance that is truly representative of all citizens and neighborhoods.

I promise to work diligently, having open communication with all citizens, business owners and community leaders to create an atmosphere at city hall to foster and develop respectful relationships between all parties on all issues. I understand fully that we may not always conclude in agreement, but will reach our goals through fairness and inclusion.

To begin this effort, I would encourage and welcome input from any concerned citizens with comments, questions, criticism or support. Please feel free to contact me via e-mail (F.Easton@myactv.net) and/or by telephone 301-393-4615. In the interim, I look forward to the upcoming campaign and utilizing this and many other public forums to outline my positions on the specific issues that are most important to you.

Forrest Easton is a candidate for Hagerstown City Council./

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