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Council hopefuls discuss public jobs

May 02, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Three incumbents on the Hagerstown City Council will try to retain their seats in the May 19 general election.

Councilmen Martin Brubaker, 62, and Lewis C. Metzner, 56, and Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh, 61, are seeking another term.

Brubaker and Metzner are Democrats. Nigh is running as a write-in candidate because she lost in the March 10 primary election.

The three incumbents will face Democratic challengers R. Noel Brady, 68, William M. Breichner, 77, and David A. Lidz, 43, and Republicans Patrick N. Crist, 46, Forrest W. Easton, 34, Jeremy L. Manford, 24, and Don Mohar, 49.

Unaffiliated candidate Ashley C. Haywood, 24, also is running.

The top five vote-getters will take office June 1 and serve four-year terms.

Each member of the council earns $8,000 per year.

Editor's note: The following is the fourth of five questions that candidates for Hagerstown City Council were asked to answer, followed by their responses. Candidates were asked to keep their responses to 150 words. Responses were edited for length and to fix typos or errors. Otherwise, they appear as they were received from the candidates.

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This week's question is: Would you follow in the footsteps of the Washington County government and support the creation of public jobs at a time when the private sector is making personnel cuts to remain fiscally solvent?



R. Noel Brady, 68

Democrat

40 E. Antietam St.

I feel the city should freeze hiring any new employees until the economy would improve. When city employees retire, do not fill their positions. Transfer personnel from another department to fill the vacancy. If layoffs are necessary, layoff part-time employees first, then see if any of the employees would be willing to take early retirement and the last option would be to lay off employees. Do not add any further tax burden on the property owners in Hagerstown.

William M. Breichner, 77

Democrat

1117 Oak Hill Ave.

Considering our current economic condition, I believe it would not be justified for the city to undertake additional personnel over and above the current level. Incidentally, after reading (Washington County Administrator Greg) Murray's explanation of the county's situation in the newspaper, I do understand their needs and I believe several have serious effect on the safety of all of our citizens, both city and county. Although I have advocated the need for additional police officers, I do believe that the city has a responsibility to our taxpayers to control personnel staffing at our current level.

Martin E. Brubaker, 62

Democrat, Incumbent

183 Brynwood St.

What matters most in budgeting are changes in overall revenues and expenditures, with resulting tax implications. While the total personnel count is an important consideration, viewing through that lens only is very simplistic. For instance, should the city turn down two grant-funded police officers simply to keep the personnel count down? No, the financial question here is can the city afford this expense in future years when the grant is likely to expire? Every annual city budget includes four-year projections that have helped save the city from the financial dilemmas that many other local governments face. For many years, nonpublic safety general fund positions have not increased, despite population growth, while the city tax rate was decreased for the current year. The Washington County Commissioners and their staff are fully capable of making responsible budget decisions and I do not accept that they are setting a negative example.

David A. Lidz, 43

Democrat

716 Summit Ave.

Absolutely not. As a small businessman myself, and as a manager of my own family, I have had to do what most honest, hard-working people do when times are hard -- get by on less; work harder to keep my budgets in the black. I believe it is irresponsible, unethical and unrepresentative for local governments to be fattening their budgets and payrolls while the rest of us are behaving responsibly, and taking to heart the lesson of this great economic meltdown: it is time to remember who we are, where we came from, and what made us a great country and people in the first place. Hard work, common sense, prudent, concrete, conservative financial management. We must remember that the role of government is to establish the laws and build the infrastructure that allow the private sector to flourish. That's it. Government does not create jobs. Private enterprise creates jobs.

Lewis C. Metzner, 56

Democrat, Incumbent

322 E. Irvin Ave.

I would not support the creation of new jobs within the city without a good reason and showing of true need. I do not perceive such a need at this time and therefore would not support the creation of new jobs.

Patrick N. Crist, 46

Republican

906 Maryland Ave.

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