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Mayoral candidates address public jobs

May 03, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- It has been a little more than three years since the Hagerstown City Council appointed Robert E. Bruchey II to serve as mayor.

During the general election May 19, it will be up to the residents to decide whether the Republican incumbent deserves another term.

Bruchey, 50, will face Democratic challenger David S. Gysberts, 31, and write-in candidate Jonathan R. Burrs, 38.

Bruchey served as mayor from 1997 to 2001. He lost mayoral bids in 2001 and 2005 before the council appointed him Feb. 28, 2006, to finish the remainder of the term of former Mayor Richard F. Trump, who resigned after serving less than a year.

Bruchey defeated Burrs and Ann Holtzman in the Republican primary March 10.

Burrs said he decided to run as a write-in because his campaign was just hitting its stride when he was defeated.

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The next mayor will serve a four-year term and take office June 1. The salary is $28,000 per year.

Editor's note: The following is the fourth of five questions that candidates for mayor of Hagerstown 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.

This week's question: 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?

Robert E. Bruchey II, 50

Republican, Incumbent

905 Woodland Way

The staffing levels at the City of Hagerstown will reflect those positions that are mandatory to carry out the services that the City of Hagerstown feels are in the best interest of our citizens. The city will transfer 11 communications personnel to the county this year, which will reduce the overall staffing level by nine with the hiring of two additional police officers to help create a new sector that we feel is needed to ensure the safety of our citizens. We will continue our practice of cross-training our employees to be proficient in multiple capacities, thus eliminating the need to automatically hire through attrition. Producing more qualified employees to multi-task will result in cost savings to our citizens without diminishing the services they receive. It is necessary that we govern much like a business. Reducing cost where applicable will keep our finances sound and aid us in weathering this economic storm.

David S. Gysberts, 31

Democrat

795 Hamilton Blvd.

I would support the creation of public jobs only if they were essential to delivering the quality services taxpayers and customers expected to protect their health, safety and welfare. At this time, though, adding jobs to the city's payroll is not necessary. The city should continue to explore ways to consolidate certain services and/or share costs with the county for services that are essential, like emergency dispatch, or even a comprehensive county-wide recycling program. I know many small business owners are foregoing their own salaries in these hard economic times. The teacher's union to which I belong agreed to give up a 5 percent COLA. We all sacrifice. As mayor, I will donate a large portion of the mayor's salary to fund scholarships for first-generation college students from Hagerstown to attend HCC or continue their studies at USM-H. The rest will go toward unpaid leave I take to serve the city.

Jonathan R. Burrs, 38

Republican

950 Lanvale St.

This would depend on the actual need and whether hiring personnel still equates to the reduction in staff from an accounting perspective. It would also depend on where the money is coming from to create the new public jobs.

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