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Ashley C. Haywood, 24

Unaffiliated

Unaffiliated

February 20, 2009

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.

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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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