Name: David Scott Gysberts
Date of birth: Oct. 28, 1977
Address: 795 Hamilton Blvd., Hagerstown
Education: Master of Arts, counseling
Occupation: School counselor
Party affiliation: Democrat
Political experience: Five years on the city planning commission; previous run for mayor in 2009; applied for open council seat in 2006
Q: A significant amount of public taxpayer money over a long period has been committed to help pay for the local share of debt service on the proposed multiuse sports and events center. If elected, would you continue to support this? Why or why not?
I support the Hagerstown Suns and the effort to build a new stadium, but I continue to have many questions about the process which led to the current proposal. I support significant public investment in infrastructure or other major projects with public benefit if it is part of a broader plan to revitalize downtown or grow our economy. The current proposal seems myopic and capricious because it lacks integration with an overall plan for redevelopment or revitalization, and there was no input on the “Project Committee” from taxpayers or residents of the area affected.
Q: How would you entice businesses to locate within city limits?
I would examine and overhaul current incentive programs. Currently, the city has a program to subsidize the rent of businesses looking to move into Hagerstown. This can amount to nothing more than a rental subsidy, which benefits the landlords, but not really the small business owner. Businesses who want to move to Hagerstown often have to invest much of their own capital just to improve the property they are renting to the point where it is suitable for habitation or business. I think we should look at additional incentives such as utility subsidies and tax abatements tied to job creation.
Q: In your opinion, what issue will be the most crucial facing the upcoming administration? How will you help address it?
Changing the way we do business in City Hall is the most crucial issue. Keeping the focus of local government on neighborhoods and the health, safety and welfare of our citizens will be my top priority. To me, Neighborhoods 1st is not just a program run by City Hall, but a philosophy of government. Regardless of the issue, people can trust that I will listen to them and maintain transparency while making data-driven decisions with all stakeholder feedback. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.
Q: Do you think Hagerstown’s downtown can be truly “revitalized”? If so, what, besides a new stadium, can the city do to spur the process?
We must address the tough demographic challenges, such as poverty and homeownership, if we are ever to revitalize the downtown. I believe the role of government in economic development is limited to investing in infrastructure, and creating the regulatory environment conducive to attracting and retaining businesses. Accomplishing revitalization will take a synergy of efforts to attract new business, as well residents with disposable income, issues that have been discussed for decades, but with no real results.
Q: Does Hagerstown have enough public safety personnel? If not, what changes would you make and how would you fund any increases?
I don’t think this is a question of do we have enough, but what we do with who and what we have. Increasing personnel with grant funding is tricky because when the grants end, we either lose them or must find a way to continue funding these positions. I will work with the police and fire departments to ensure that we are meeting the public safety needs of our citizens in the most effective and efficient manner possible.