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Incumbent, four others campaign for two tow commissioner seats

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

Two commissioner seats will be open `when the town holds elections on t April 27, and five people, including one incumbent, have filed to ,be candidates.

Cliff Sweeney, whose eight years on the board make him the "'town's longest serving commissioner, has filed to run for his seat again. Joining him in the race are Harold Craig, Stanley Mazaleski, Bill O'Neil Jr. and Dianne Walbrecker.

Commissioner Patrick Boyle, the board's president, has said he will not seek another term in office. His seat is the other one open this year.

The town's four commissioners and mayor normally serve three-year terms. However, the term being decided in this election will be for an extra few months to allow the town to move its elections to the fall, beginning in 2007.

The deadline for candidates to file for this year's election is March 26.

Mr. Sweeney, 38, is a construction foreman who is an Emmitsburg native. He said he's pursuing another term primarily because of unfinished business.

"There's a lot of stuff in Emmitsburg that's happening now that I'd like to be part of," he said, "like bringing new businesses to town, bringing Emmitsburg's growth under control, and trying desperately to get at least the middle school back."

Mr. Sweeney said he'll base his campaign on improving the town's utility infrastructure, finding ways to alleviate traffic, and returning a school to the town. He also said he'd like to be president of the board and serve on the board of zoning appeals and water committee, which might make him the first board member to serve on all town committees and in every appointed office.

A 73-year-old retired lawyer for the Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Craig has lived in Emmitsburg for 37 years. He said he's teaming with Mr. O'Neil to make his first bid for town office to solve problems the town faces.

"I'm running because of the problems that we're having here that haven't previously been addressed," said Mr. Craig, who serves as vice president of Citizens Organized to Preserve Emmitsburg Inc. (COPE), the grassroots citizens group focused on growth issues.

He said most of the problems, from the town's failing infra-structure to traffic so heavy that he almost can't cross Main Street safely, arise from virtually unfettered growth.

Controlling growth is the primary plank of Mr. Craig's plat-form. He's also focused on infrastructure repair and replacement and getting a bypass for the town.

Mr. Mazaleski, 70, said the town's infrastructure ailments prompted him to seek office. The retiree said he thinks his doctor-ate in preventative medicine and public health, and experience with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could be helpful.

"I want to help the people up here," said Mr. Mazaleski, a 30-year Maryland resident who moved to Emmitsburg in December 2002. "I'm pretty sure they have a water problem they're not aware of. A lot of kids here are not healthy."

In addition to improving environmental health with the possible water problem, Mr. Mazaleski said that if he were elected, he'd work to keep residential and commercial growth to manage-able levels and promote a southern bypass around Emmitsburg.

Mr. O'Neil, COPE's 44-year-old founder and president, is a Pennsylvania native who moved to Emmitsburg almost two years ago. He said he and Mr. Craig are running together under the slogan: "Preserve the best. Improve the rest."

"We want to preserve the best Emmitsburg has to offer ... make sure it's not overdeveloped, that resources are not strained, that Emmitsburg's residents are not taxed in order to pay for overdevelopment," said Mr. O'Neil, a federal affairs representative for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. "We want to keep Emmitsburg a quality community and not just accommodate people who are passing through."

To accomplish that goal, Mr. O'Neil is promoting a platform that includes slowing the construction of approved housing, lobbying for a bypass, and repairing the town's sewer system.

Ms. Walbrecker, 48, has lived in Emmitsburg for almost 13 years. In her home-based business, Getting It Write, she analyzes training needs and develops training courses, and she also teaches classes at the National Emergency Training Center just outside town.

Keeping Emmitsburg a unique community is the reason Ms. Walbrecker gave for running.

"I think there's a bigger issue than being able to say, 'No residential (growth), yes commercial (growth),'" she said. "Residential growth doesn't have to be bad. It doesn't have to look like big cookie-cutter McMansions on one-eighth of an acre. It can be attractive."

Ms. Walbrecker said that as a town commissioner, she'd solicit citizen input on important issues like the comprehensive plan and promote things like subdivisions with sidewalks connecting to the downtown to encourage people to get out in the community.

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