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Mayoral candidates talk about jobs

February 15, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II will square off against challengers Jonathan R. Burrs and Ann Holtzman in the Republican primary on March 10.

Kaye Robucci, deputy director of the Washington County Board of Elections, said voters will choose one Republican candidate from the field of three to advance to the general election on May 19.

She said David S. Gysberts, the lone Democratic candidate, automatically will move on to the general election.

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 a re-election bid to William M. Breichner.

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

The mayor earns $28,000 per year.




Editor's note: The following is the second of four questions that candidates for mayor of Hagerstown were asked to answer, followed by their responses.

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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: How will you try to bring jobs to the City of Hagerstown?

Republicans



Robert E. Bruchey II, 50

Republican, incumbent

905 Woodland Way

This question has been pondered at the City Council table for years. The time for studies and inaction is over. My marketing initiative, Hagerstown Advance, is under way and will assist in the recruitment of new business in Hagerstown. This initiative will consist of Web-based and hard-copy marketing material that will allow companies in search of relocation or expansion to experience what Hagerstown has to offer without ever leaving their office.

This will entail footprints of vacant floors in buildings, incentives that allow for redevelopment of older buildings and construction of new. Loan and grant programs, including Upper Floor Revolving Loan Fund, Revolving Loan Fund, Sign and Façade Grants, and special taxing districts. We must become aggressive, not reactive, to development of business that will bring higher-paying wages to our citizens. The time for action is now.

Jonathan R. Burrs, 38

Republican

950 Lanvale St.

I would use a multistrategy approach to addressing the city and county job needs by focusing on creating a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and business incubators for mid- and large-size businesses to help emerging companies survive during start-up, when they are most vulnerable. More county jobs mean more opportunities for city residents.

Focal points for SBD and tourism can be accomplished by reaching into Hagerstown's history when businesses thrived and moved the city toward re-creating that historic scene in modern settings.

I would lobby for state and federal funds to complete Phase III of Maryland's rural broadband project to install fiber optic cabling from the Bay Bridge to Western Maryland, with Hagerstown being the hub. This technological infrastructure upgrade, coupled with the geographical benefits for accessing interstates and rail for regional transportation management of merchandise, are fundamental reasons for businesses to relocate and develop in Washington County.

Ann Holtzman, 65

Republican

1076 Lindsay Lane

As your full-time mayor, I will offer tax incentives to new business, job training for our citizens, freeze assessments for renovations for commercial and residential improvements.

As mayor, I will put the interest of the citizens over the tax revenue for the city. I would offer tax incentives to new businesses to move to Hagerstown. I would direct grant monies to offer scholarships to city residents for job training, business start-up, résumé preparation and interviewing techniques to help city residents be competitive in the job market.

One way to jump-start local construction is to offer a three-year delay for increasing property taxes to residential and commercial property owners. Simply put, if you apply for a renovation to improve your property, to rehab a vacant house or commercial property or to expand your business, your taxes would not go up for three years.

Democrat



David S. Gysberts, 31

Democrat

795 Hamilton Blvd.

The city should be creating conditions that will attract job-creating businesses and economic developments to Hagerstown. This means having tax and land-use codes that are regionally competitive and incentivize development where we want development to occur.

As mayor, I will be working first to encourage property owners to fix up and fill up the first floors of the downtown commercial districts before focusing on the upper stories of the buildings in downtown. This in itself will create jobs.

In addition, I will use my position as mayor to reach out to individuals and corporations to encourage them to take a look at Hagerstown as a place to locate or relocate. Our proximity to the interstates, high quality of life, and relatively low cost of land and housing makes Hagerstown especially attractive to businesses, research-and-development companies, and other firms that offer professional jobs and salaries.

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