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Council candidates discuss development

February 28, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Four of the nine Democratic candidates running in the race for the Hagerstown City Council will be eliminated during the March 10 primary election.

The five top Democratic vote-getters will face four Republican candidates in the May 19 general election.

Because there are fewer than five Republicans running in the council election, the four who have filed automatically will advance from the primary to the general election, said Kaye Robucci, deputy director of the Washington County Board of Elections.

Robucci said it still is important for Republicans to turn out to vote during the primary because three GOP mayoral candidates are running.

In the city council race, all five incumbents -- Martin E. Brubaker, Kelly S. Cromer, Lewis C. Metzner, Penny M. Nigh and Alesia D. Parson-McBean -- are on the Democratic ballot in the primary, along with R. Noel Brady, William M. Breichner, David A. Lidz and Joseph A. Marschner.

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Patrick N. Crist, Forrest W. Easton, Jeremy L. Manford and Don Mohar are the Republican candidates.

Also seeking office is unaffiliated candidate Ashley C. Haywood, who advances automatically to the general election.

City Clerk Donna Spickler said the winning candidates will take office June 1.

Each council member earns $8,000 per year.




The Herald-Mail asked each of the candidates to respond to four questions. Their answers to the fourth and final question can be found on page A3 of today's edition. Responses to the previous questions were printed on Feb. 8, 15 and 22.

This week's question is: Do you believe that the current administration has neglected other parts of the city by focusing too heavily on developing the first block of South Potomac Street?




Democrats

R. Noel Brady, 68

Democrat

40 E. Antietam St.

I don't feel they have neglected other parts of Hagerstown, but they have put a great deal of emphasis on South Potomac Street. They don't seem to offer the same incentives to businesses in other sections of Hagerstown.

We need to promote the Long Meadow Shopping Center, Ames Shopping Center, The South End Shopping Center and established businesses in all areas of Hagerstown.

William M. Breichner, 77

Democrat

1117 Oak Hill Ave.

The Arts and Entertainment District on the first block of South Potomac Street was one of several proposals outlined in a plan for improvements for the downtown developed by a citizens committee in 1997. It was then determined that the project that would have the most significant impact was that area which houses The Maryland Theatre, the library, and several properties owned by CHIEF and the city. The work actually began on the A&E District during the prior administration with the support of private property owners. I do not believe the current administration was wrong in finishing that project.

It is now time to move in a new area of downtown such as East Washington Street and the housing project on East Baltimore Street. My hope is that work will soon begin on the roadway to the parking deck and future building improvements on East Washington Street.

Martin E. Brubaker, 62

Democrat, Incumbent

183 Brynwood St.

The South Potomac Street and sidewalk improvements cost about $175,000 in local tax-supported funds out of a total $432,000. To the extent that the Arts and Entertainment District succeeds and can sustain private business investment, the tax investment will be paid back many times over the long run.

By contrast, rebuilding of troublesome utility lines and reconstruction of street surface and sidewalk for Jonathan Street, in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, will cost about $3.2 million in tax and utility fees. These expenditures should lower maintenance obligations and encourage redevelopment/refurbishment in this neighborhood.

The city has invested a total of $4.8 million in widening and reconstruction of Eastern Boulevard and is participating in Dual Highway/Edgewood improvements. New property tax revenue from economic development and annexation supported by such infrastructure has more than supported the debt service for these projects and helped allow a tax rate reduction for 2009.

Kelly S. Cromer, 43

Democrat, Incumbent

21 Summit Ave. (business address)

No, the taxpayers' moneys spent on South Potomac Street are minimal compared to the millions the city has spent on a vast array of other areas of the city. I would also point out that the first block of South Potomac Street was not entirely taxpayer moneys, it was also grants and private moneys. This administration has made improvements all over the city in order to improve the quality of life for all our citizens. We have spent millions of dollars on the Jonathan Street project and millions on improving Eastern Boulevard, as well as the money spent on improving our parks and recreation areas, streets all over the city, on improving our infrastructure and financially helping organizations that are geared toward children, the elderly and the working poor, just to name a few.

David A. Lidz, 43

Democrat

716 Summit Ave.

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