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Candidates for county offices discuss priorities and issues

July 21, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Eleven Washington County commissioner candidates and two sheriff candidates fielded questions about job creation, historic preservation and other topics Wednesday night at a Meet the Candidates forum hosted by Citizens for the Preservation of Pleasant Valley.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

BROWNSVILLE -- Eleven Washington County commissioner candidates and two sheriff candidates fielded questions about job creation, historic preservation and other topics Wednesday night at a Meet the Candidates forum hosted by Citizens for the Preservation of Pleasant Valley.

About 30 people besides the candidates attended the forum at the Brownsville Church of the Brethren.

Guest speaker Richard B. Weldon Jr., a former state delegate for Frederick and Washington counties, praised the attendees for their activism in an opening speech.

"There's nothing more important that you will do than to learn as much as you can about these people, the people that will make the decisions that will affect you every single day, for the next four years," Weldon said.

Each candidate was given an opportunity to introduce himself or herself, then the candidates were asked questions from the audience drawn at random.

Commissioner candidates:

o Kristin B. Aleshire, an incumbent, said between his commissioner position and his job as Myersville town manager, he reads 20 to 30 periodicals a month about local government issues, and he attends three to five functions a week.

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Asked about tax relief, Aleshire spoke of the senior tax credit, municipal tax differential and tax cap on nonhomeowner occupied properties the county had already passed. He also said responsible budget management, as indicated by good bond ratings, had put the county in a good position to offer tax breaks.

o Terry Baker, an incumbent, said he finds it rewarding to help solve problems for citizens and is proud that this might be the first year the county has paid back more on debt than it has borrowed.

Asked how he would bring jobs to the county, Baker suggested extending incentives to small businesses along with large ones and having the county deal only with banking institutions that "loosen up" on their lending practices.

o John F. Barr, the incumbent commissioners president, said growing up on a farm taught him the value of hard work while running a business taught him how to value and care for people.

Asked about the most neglected essential need in the county, Barr spoke of unemployment, particularly in the construction industry.

o Ruth Anne Callaham spoke of the beauty of cresting South Mountain into Washington County and said she wants to preserve natural resources while also building infrastructure to support growth.

Asked about Urban Growth Area rezoning, Callaham said she thought the "intense discussions" going on now were a healthy part of the complex process.

o Jeff Cline said his priorities included tax relief for seniors and fiscal responsibility, or "living within your means when spending other people's money."

In response to a question about cell towers, Cline talked about the proposed South County emergency communications tower. He said he felt it was important for public safety, but said he would take citizens' opinions about its location into consideration.

o Charlie Henson said he wanted to focus on improving the local economy and said he was partial to the south end of the county after growing up in Boonsboro.

In response to a question about televising commissioners' meetings, Henson said he knew "very little about how things work at the county commissioners' level," but would support televising meetings immediately.

o Bill McKinley said he wanted to bring jobs to the county, improve the organization of the government and manage growth to maintain the character of the county.

Asked where he would like to see the county at the end of his term, McKinley said he would like to see high employment levels and more careful management of tax dollars.

o John "Jack" Miller said he was excited about his first run for public office and promised to be accessible, adding he plans to retire at the end of the year and can devote his full time to the office.

Asked what could be done about areas of southern Washington County having Frederick County ZIP codes and telephone exchanges, he said the issue "definitely needs to be addressed" and should be tackled by the commissioners as a group.

o John Munson said he was very concerned about the county's debt and wanted to shift to a pay-as-you-go approach to funding projects.

Asked if he valued historic preservation, Munson said he loves looking at old places and would like to see a museum for antique vehicles opened in the county.

o Nick G. Vindivich Jr. said he would bring enthusiasm and entrepreneurship as a commissioner and wanted to make the county a place where his grandchildren would want to live.

In response to a question about balancing the peoples' interests with his own political interests, Vindivich said he would represent the people who elect him but also keep the "big picture," including future generations, in mind.

o Robin Lynne Wivell described herself as a conservative Republican and said controlling budget spending and promoting economic development were her top priorities.

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