It was a long Tuesday for poll workers at the 52 precincts in Washington County, with voter turnout rising steadily over the day for Maryland’s primary elections.
For the first time, the races for Hagerstown mayor and city council, as well as Washington County Board of Education, were non-partisan. This means that who ends up on the ballots for the general election won’t be decided by the candidates’ party affiliations.
Many citizens at the polls said they were happy with Hagerstown’s progress over recent years, but they want to continue seeing economic growth.
“I’m actually for anybody who’s pro-business, who wants to develop the business part of the community,” said Hagerstown resident Paul Rosenstock.
“Community is everything,” added Paige Troiano. “So we start here and I think we can do big things.”
David Gysberts, the current mayor of Hagerstown, is seeking a new four-year term. He said the city has “unfinished business,” including the revitalization of the downtown area.
“I think Hagerstown is being compared a lot to Frederick now,” said city resident Jackie Lopez. “That area has boomed. We’d just like to see that development continue to hit here.”
“I really believe I have the head, heart and guts to be the best mayor,” Gysberts said.
Four candidates filed to run for mayor of Hagerstown, but only two can advance to the general election. Gysberts appears to be set for a rematch with former mayor Bob Bruchey, who served for three terms from 1997 to 2012.
Gysberts defeated Bruchey in the last mayoral election.
“We have to be able to offer people the possibility of jobs and economic development, and we’re not doing that right now,” Bruchey said.
He explained that he’s not a “government person,” but a “business person” – which he believes is what the city needs now more than ever.
“The people in the current administration are ‘government people,’ and they understand that money is endless when you can raise taxes,” Bruchey added. “Business people realize that’s not true – you have to actually turn a profit.”
Gysberts, however, said he’s a “change agent” who has demonstrated the ability to be a honest and trustworthy candidate.
“My predecessor had 10 out of the previous 15 years when he was in office,” he said. “I think we need to keep moving forward, and I think I have the skills to be able to do that.”
According to the unofficial results as of early Wednesday morning, with 53 of 56 precincts reporting, Gysberts led the race with 42% of the votes. Bruchey followed closely with 36.4%.
Their other two challengers, Rachel Cooper and Steven Hemstreet, Jr., had 17.1% and 4.6%, respectively.
In the race for City Council, there were 11 candidates for the five open seats, with 10 moving on to the general election ballot. Incumbents Kristin Aleshire, Don Munson, Penny Nigh and Lewis Metzner all were in the top five as of Wednesday morning – along with newcomer Emily Keller. Paul Corderman trailed closely in the votes.
For the Board of Education race, current members Wayne Ridenour, Donna Brightman and Melissa Williams were among the top four candidates as of Wednesday morning. Newcomer Pieter Bickford, former news anchor at WHAG-TV, has received the second-most amount of votes.
To keep up with the latest results, click here.