Name: Donald F. Munson
Date of birth: Dec. 21, 1937
Address: 117 W. Magnolia Ave., Hagerstown
Education: (highest attained): Bachelor’s degree, Johns Hopkins University
Party Affiliation: Republican
Political Experience: Delegate, Maryland House of Delegates for 16 years; Senator, Maryland Senate for 20 years.
Q: A significant amount of public taxpayer money over a long period has been committed to help pay for the local share of debt service on the proposed multiuse sports and events center. If elected, would you continue to support this? Why or why not?
A: As a matter of public policy, I strongly support Suns baseball remaining in Hagerstown. The Suns should, I believe, continue to play ball at the present stadium in an improved and enhanced facility to meet patron needs, parking needs and league requirements.
Funding for reconditioning should come from all possible private sources, local government, plus state government to the greatest extent possible. This remaining in place option would keep baseball in our community long term at a much lower cost than the cost of a relocated stadium.
Q: How would you entice businesses to locate within city limits?
A: The City should designate an economic development professional with sufficient staff and authority to work solely to bring in new or expand existing businesses. Quality of life problems; crime, dilapidated buildings, loitering, cleanliness, etc., must be addressed, especially downtown. Unsavory people, drug dealers and prostitutes hanging around work places and housing must stop. Conflicting business regulations must be eliminated
To really thrive, the City must continue its practice of fiscal restraint with a policy of no new taxes. The County should pay Hagerstown more in service fee payments.
Q: In your opinion, what issue will be the most crucial facing the upcoming administration? How will you help address it?
A: The most crucial issue: fiscal discipline. Hagerstown has the duty to provide its citizens the best possible services at the lowest possible cost, just as the private sector does. That responsibility must never be permitted to diminish. For Hagerstown to flourish, fiscal discipline must be combined with a long term policy of no new or increased taxes. The City Council has total control over these matters and if elected, I shall vote accordingly.
Q: Do you think Hagerstown’s downtown can be truly “revitalized?” If so, what besides a new stadium, can the city do to spur the process?
A: Yes. Downtown Hagerstown can be revitalized, or largely so. There are too many examples of successful downtown revitalization around the nation to believe otherwise.
Please reference my answer to Question 2. Downtown Hagerstown revitalization would likely come about if potential downtown residents had access to upscale, affordable, quality, safe, appropriately designed and attractive housing that includes neighborhood amenities and parking. Safety is probably the key need here. As the state and local governments impose more growth restrictions on rural areas, downtown revitalization becomes more and more doable. This effort would not be easy. With time and determination, it could happen.
Q: Does Hagerstown have enough public safety personnel? If not, what changes would you make and how would you fund any increases?
A: Hagerstown probably does not have sufficient public safety personnel. As a non-incumbent, I am not able to credibly evaluate the City’s public safety personnel needs. As a citizen of Hagerstown, however, I believe intuitively that we do need more police on the streets and firefighters at fires. As the economy improves (hopefully it will) Washington County must be persuaded to commit to providing additional service fees to Hagerstown. After all, the citizens of Hagerstown pay plenty of county taxes.
Donald F. Munson - Hagerstown City Council Candidates Q&A
Don Munson (File photo / April 4, 2012)