Candidates questioned at town hall meeting

March 06, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Duffy's on Potomac hosted a town hall meeting Friday for the Hagerstown mayoral and City Council candidates in this year's election.

Fourteen of the 18 candidates participated.

The candidates were asked questions from the audience that ranged from their stance on recycling to the reason they are the best person for the job.

The responses printed in this story vary in length because some of the candidates volunteered to field more questions.

Three Democratic council incumbents -- Kelly S. Cromer, Penny M. Nigh and Alesia D. Parson-McBean -- chose not to attend. Unaffiliated candidate Ashley C. Haywood also did not participate.

The city primary is Tuesday. The general election is May 19.


Robert E. Bruchey II, R, 50, Incumbent

Bruchey said he wants to use a city marketing initiative called Hagerstown Advance to advertise across the country all that Hagerstown has to offer.


He said residents should be educated about the importance of recycling, but it should not be mandatory.

"How would you enforce it," Bruchey said. "How will you pay to enforce it ... Will people go around looking in trash cans for plastic?"

Jonathan R. Burrs, R, 38

Burrs said he decided to run for mayor because he is unsatisfied with the city government.

The city could use new technologies like Facebook to communicate with younger residents, he said.

"Technology is our friend," Burrs said. "We can use it to our benefit or ignore it."

He said city officials should create ways to market the city by copying successful strategies from other municipalities, such as Lancaster, Pa.

Burrs said he supports recycling, but it shouldn't be mandatory.

Ann Holtzman, R, 65

Holtzman said she is the most qualified mayoral candidate, in part, because she ran a successful Allstate insurance business in the city for several years.

"I'm retired so (serving as mayor) would be my full-time job," Holtzman said.

She said younger residents would have to lead the way to promote the use of new technologies because "it's going to take time to change the older folks."

David S. Gysberts, D, 31

Gysberts said he would try to make it easier for residents to pay their bills by making the city's Web site more user-friendly.

In addition, the city could use broadband as a utility to attract high-tech jobs, he said.

Gysberts has served two years on the city's Planning Commission and said he wants to "bring peace and prosperity" to the city.


R. Noel Brady, D, 68

Brady said he has lived downtown for almost 40 years and encourages small-business growth across the city -- not only downtown.

"I can bring new direction and vision to the City Council," said Brady, a co-owner of Andrew K. Coffman Funeral Home Inc.

William M. Breichner, D, 77

Breichner said he has a long history of service to the City of Hagerstown.

He served as mayor from 2001-05 and as a city councilman for three terms. Breichner also worked for the city as a draftsman, superintendent of water and city administrator.

Breichner touted his service in the U.S. Navy.

"I can bring a lot of knowledge and assistance to the city," he said.

Martin E. Brubaker, D, 62, Incumbent

Brubaker said he has a great deal of knowledge as a budget professional and recently helped update the city's comprehensive plan, which will guide development for the next 20 years.

He said he brings a "middle of the road" approach to the council.

Brubaker voted to place a question on the general election ballot in May that will let voters decide whether to change the dates that municipal elections are held.

Estimates from the Washington County Board of Elections indicate that changing the primary and general election dates from March and May to coincide with the presidential elections could save the city about $60,000.

David A. Lidz, D, 43

Lidz said as a real estate agent he tries to bring investors to Hagerstown every day, but it's hard to do because there is a low rate of return on property, residents are "double taxed" by the city and county and the code enforcement office has "gone wild."

"There's no real vision to bring a positive economy to Hagerstown," he said.

Lidz said the city should reach out to residents to hear about their concerns.

He said he went door-to-door during the campaign to introduce himself to the electorate, but only one in 10 seemed interested enough to express their concerns.

Joseph A. Marschner, D, 41

A teacher at Hagerstown Community College for the past seven years, Marschner said he understands how important education is to "work-force development."

Marschner said he wants to use advances in communication technology to market Hagerstown and is using a Web site, Facebook and Linkedin as campaign tools.

He said the city could use technological advances to make public documents, such as the city's budget and comprehensive plan, more accessible to residents.

Lewis C. Metzner, D, 56, Incumbent

Metzner said he has worked with four different mayors and about 13 different council members in his tenure on the council.

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