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Thurmont election forum engages candidates

Stephanie Mlot
Frederick News Post

(9/15) Tempers remained calm as four town commissioner candidates discussed the hot-button issue of Thurmont's current public comment policy during a Tuesday forum.

Sponsored by the Thurmont Lions Club, the candidates forum offered each contender the chance to explain what he would bring to the town if elected in October. Two seats on the Thurmont board are open this year.

During the two minutes allotted to answer the question, incumbent Commissioner Bob Lookingbill said he has no problem with the current policy, enacted in March 2010, during his time on the board.

Last year, the mayor and commissioners agreed on a practice of allowing public comment during town meetings, held every other Monday; town workshops are conducted in the intervening weeks. Residents must sign up to speak before the meeting begins, and are allowed three minutes at the end, unless otherwise noted by the board.

"One of the main reasons we did this was due to electioneering that was occurring from that podium by several individuals," candidate and current Commissioner Glenn Muth said Tuesday in the Town Hall.

"Anytime somebody wants to get up and make respectful comments, we offer that time," Lookingbill said.

Candidate Bill Buehrer agreed with the commissioners and the current policy, saying he would condone following the present system if elected.

But he will fight for more respect to be shown to those residents presenting to the board of commissioners.

"By (giving) respect, we are respected," he said Tuesday.

Before being prompted with the question of whether the town should reinstitute the ability to speak without restriction during town meetings, John Kinnaird expressed his concern about listening to the public.

"I have learned over the years that the best thing I can do and think I will do is to pay close attention to the desires of the population of Thurmont, our residents," he said about what qualities he would bring to the town as a commissioner.

The forum brought discussion of change in the town, how to save residents money and bolster the town budget, as well as increase economic development, especially along Main Street.

Voter registration in the town is allowed through 4 p.m. Monday at the town office.

The election is set for Monday, Oct. 3 at the Guardian Hose Co. Activities Building; polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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