Editor’s note: This is one in an series of profiles of candidates running for office in the April 3 primary election.
Democratic incumbent Martin E. Brubaker said he is seeking another term on Hagerstown City Council because he wants to continue “playing a major role in the good governance of the city of Hagerstown.”
Brubaker, 65, of 183 Brynwood Street, was appointed to the five-member council in 2006 — after Kristin B. Aleshire was elected to a seat on the Washington County Board of Commissioners — before winning a re-election bid in 2009.
Brubaker, who is retired, will be joined by incumbents William M. Breichner and Lewis C. Metzner, and former council members Aleshire and Penny M. Nigh, on the Democratic ballot in the April 3 primary election. All five will advance to the Nov. 6 general election. Unaffiliated incumbent Ashley C. Haywood also will be on the general election ballot.
Maintaining a financial base that can pay for traditional city services has been one of his main goals as a council member, Brubaker said.
“It’s going to be more and more difficult unless there’s a major upswing in the economy,” he said. “And to maintain the current level of service is going to be a real difficult chore requiring experience and judgment. I think I can contribute a lot to that process.”
The city council has managed to keep property taxes steady for the past four years, but utility fees have increased due to environmental requirements passed down from the county and state levels, Brubaker said.
While increases are likely for services such as water, sewage or electricity, Brubaker stressed that it’s important for taxpayers to acknowledge the value of the services available.
“I’m not going to take a pledge to never raise any fee, but I’m going to take a pledge to look at them very carefully and try to reduce them, if possible,” he said.
On the subject of the Hagerstown Suns minor league baseball team, Brubaker said “it’s time for other parties to step forward ... because there’s no way the city can do this alone and be fair to the taxpayers.”
Other stadium projects in Maryland have often followed a formula of one-third local funding, one-third state and one-third from private contributions, he said, adding that there has been no support from the private sector for renovating Municipal Stadium or building a new stadium in Hagerstown.
“You can just look at the names of stadiums around Maryland to know there’s been a lot of private money going in there,” Brubaker said. “I think it’s a good community asset, but I don’t think it’s one that we can strap (on the backs) of Hagerstown taxpayers. We’re willing to pay a reasonable share, but we’ve got to have participation by others.”
That mix of public and private funding is the recipe for bringing new development to the downtown area as well, he said. Attracting a “name-brand firm,” or an investor that lends confidence to other private investors, would be a great place to start, he said.
“That, to me, would be the catalyst to getting downtown going again,” Brubaker said. “I’ve supported the nonprofits, but we’ve got to move beyond that now. We’ve got to move beyond just public investment and try to find private investment downtown.”
City council members serve terms of four years, earn $8,000 annually, and are eligible for city health benefits. The terms of current council members are abbreviated because of the adjustment required to hold city elections with the presidential election.
Martin E. Brubaker, incumbent
Date of birth: Oct. 4, 1946
Address: 183 Brynwood St.
Education: Graduate of Westmont Hilltop High School, 1964; Bachelor of Arts in history and political science from Gettysburg College, 1968; took graduate course at George Washington University
Party affiliation: Democrat
Political experience: Appointed to City Council, served from 2006-09; Elected to council and served from 2009 to present.