Mayoral candidates address city's problems

February 08, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Four candidates are vying for a chance to be the mayor of Hagerstown for the next four years.

Incumbent Robert E. Bruchey II will face challengers Jonathan R. Burrs and Ann Holtzman in the Republican primary on March 10.

Bruchey was appointed in 2006 to finish the remainder of the term of former Mayor Richard F. Trump, who resigned from office less than a year after being elected in May 2005.

Bruchey also served as mayor from 1997 to 2001, but lost his re-election bid to William M. Breichner.

The winner of the primary will advance to the general election on May 19 to square off against Democrat David S. Gysberts.


Kaye Robucci, deputy director of the Washington County Board of Elections, said a Democratic mayoral primary will not be held this year because Gysberts is the only candidate for mayor from that party. As such, he automatically will run in the general election.

The winning candidate will take office June 1, said Donna Spickler, Hagerstown city clerk.

The mayor earns $28,000 per year.

Following is the first of four questions that candidates for Hagerstown mayor 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 appear as they were 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?


  • Robert E. Bruchey II, 50

    Republican, incumbent

    905 Woodland Way

    We can't underestimate the effect that the downturn in the economy has had on our community or what shock waves will be felt in the coming years. Already, we have seniors struggling to pay bills on fixed incomes, families worrying about where their next paycheck will come from and businesses being forced into making hard decisions.

    Unfortunately, it is going to get worse before it gets better, and there are no easy fixes. More than ever, we are going to need strong relationships with our federal, state and county government partners to ensure that programs and projects currently under way are not cut or put on hold. We need open communication with the business community so that we can retain and grow our current businesses.

    During my service as mayor, I have built strong relationships with many partners that will help me to lead the city in these tough times.

  • Jonathan R. Burrs, 38


    950 Lanvale St.

    Hagerstown has several related issues that together make a large and complex problem. The population in the city and surrounding areas has increased while employment opportunities have decreased. Many small businesses have gone under, leaving the downtown area a spectacle of vacant rundown buildings with lease or rent signs in the windows. In addition, the downtown is becoming dirty with trash and animal waste near walkways.

    If elected, I would invite more participation from city residents and small businesses to assist me in addressing these issues. The city needs cleaned up and those who trash and tear down the city would be held accountable! I would focus on small business development around a common city theme that would invite tourism to the downtown.

    Hagerstown has the potential to thrive again, and I am certain I am the candidate that can and will turn city potential into a reality.

  • Ann Holtzman, 65


    1076 Lindsay Lane

    The economy is the most challenging issue facing Hagerstown.

    The loss/lack of good jobs, struggling housing market and increased living expenses are impacting all citizens, and put additional pressure on city leaders to find ways to continue services and programs that protect the safety, property and future of Hagerstown families.

    As mayor, I'll work with city leaders and department managers to assure we work smarter, and ensure effectiveness and efficiency. I'll lobby county, state and federal representatives to identify resources to help grow and improve the city's economy for all residents, and go after Hagerstown's fair share of those resources.

    I'll work with surrounding business and community leaders, and through citizen forums, seek input and participation from our city's most valuable resource, its residents, to find and implement solutions to the tough issues we face.

    As mayor, I'll ensure the strong leadership and commitment necessary to move Hagerstown forward.


  • David S. Gysberts, 31


    795 Hamilton Blvd.

    I believe the biggest problem facing the City of Hagerstown is the lack of vision and elected executive leadership. Currently, there are too many different agendas competing in City Hall. Under my administration, we will undertake an evaluation of the organization of city government and the performance of our human resources, where we as taxpayers invest the most heavily.

    As elected leaders, we must take responsibility to ensure that taxpayer resources are being used in a wise and efficient manner. Bringing people to the table to create a shared vision and then rallying support behind one agenda for One Hagerstown is how I see the job of mayor.

    For too long, conflict, rancor and divisiveness have reigned throughout the city and in City Hall. It's time to get down to business, resolve conflicts, and solve the challenges we face now and in the future as One Hagerstown.

    What ran Sunday: Candidates for City Council responded to this week's question.

    Next week's question: How would you try to bring jobs to the City of Hagerstown?

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