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Civics instruction uniting political parties

Coalition to hold Nov. 7 session on the demands and responsibilities of public office or serving on boards and committees

Coalition to hold Nov. 7 session on the demands and responsibilities of public office or serving on boards and committees

October 21, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County's two major political parties are working together to educate people about public service.

The Democratic and Republican central committees are in a coalition holding a Nov. 7 session on the demands and responsibilities of public office or serving on boards and committees.

A Jan. 23, 2010, follow-up session will cover the nuts and bolts of a campaign, such as election law requirements.

Local and state candidates have until July to file for the 2010 elections.

Pat Heck, the Democratic Central Committee chairwoman, said the Nov. 7 panel will be motivational -- "to get local people interested and being committed to (be) part of our democratic system."

Republican Central Committee Chairwoman Marilee Kerns said the last presidential election sparked new interest in the political process, particularly over the possibility of the first black or female president.

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"In my mind, it's important to have good people in government," said David Williams, a Republican Central Committee member working on the program. He said he would like a GOP representative whose ideals match his, but he'd prefer a good person of any party in office than a mediocre one.

Sharon Leatherman of Women at the Table, which encourages females to seek public office, said her group thought about holding an event for women. The scope grew -- men are invited, too -- as more groups got involved.

Other sponsors are the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, Hagerstown Community College and the League of Women Voters.

The Nov. 7 panelists will be:

o Bert Iseminger, a former Washington County commissioner

o Roxanne Ober, a former Washington County Board of Education member

o Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers

o Hagerstown City Councilman Martin Brubaker

o Doris J. Nipps, a former Washington County commissioner

o Maryland Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr., who is unaffiliated with a political party and represents parts of Washington and Frederick counties.

Pat Cushwa, a former Maryland state senator, will moderate.

Weldon, who has held government roles in the cities of Brunswick and Frederick and in Frederick County, will speak.

Weldon, who's not running for re-election next year, said he'll talk about his decision to leave the GOP and the flaws of partisanship, plus elected officials' great power to effect change and help constituents.

Asked if he's had many of those moments, he said, "Multiple thousands."

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