Editor’s note: This is one in an series of profiles of candidates running for office in the April 3 primary election.
Public safety was a priority to Penny M. Nigh when she held a seat on the Hagerstown City Council, and that hasn’t changed as she tries to recapture a council seat.
“Right now, we need public safety, majority,” said Nigh, who is one of five Democratic city council candidates on the April 3 primary ballot. All five will advance to the Nov. 6 general election, where they will face five GOP candidates and an unaffiliated incumbent for the five open seats on the council.
Nigh, 64, of 634 N. Mulberry St., who served two consecutive terms on the five-member council starting in 2001, lost a bid for re-election in 2009.
“There’s a lot of unfinished business that I started that I would like to see completed,” the longtime Hagerstown resident said. “I think that I’ve been very fair to the people as well as the employees of the city.”
A rise in crime has gotten the attention of people around the city, and Nigh stressed the need for keeping an adequately staffed police department.
“The same way with the fire (departments),” she said.
She said she sees cleanliness as an underlying issues related to the lack of development in Hagerstown City Center, Nigh said.
“I can’t say that it’s not safe,” she said. “I don’t have a problem walking in the downtown area, but it certainly needs to be cleaned up. Make it look better, then maybe a little bit more would be put there.”
Downtown revitalization was a topic on the council’s agenda when Nigh was last in office. Businesses were “jumping ship then and it’s just continued on,” Nigh said.
In addition to the influx of malls and shopping centers, a few investors own many of the properties in the City Center, which “kind of keeps you from doing a lot,” she added.
“Everybody has just jumped ship now, everybody,” Nigh said. “It’s far worse than what it was when I was in office. And why? Certainly this council didn’t seem to have a handle on it, did they?”
On the topic of retaining the Hagerstown Suns minor league baseball team, Nigh said the council has “already made up its mind ... as to what they want to do.”
“It basically will be moot for the next group of council people coming in if they have their way,” she said.
City council members serve terms of four years, earn $8,000 annually and are eligible for city health benefits.
Penny M. Nigh
Date of Birth: Sept. 5, 1947
Address: 634 N. Mulberry St.
Education: Graduate of North Hagerstown High School, 1965
Party affiliation: Democrat
Political experience: Elected to two terms on City Council, served 2001-09; Lost re-election bid in 2009.