Name: Kristin B. Aleshire
Date of birth: Aug. 9, 1975
Address: 1217 Virginia Ave., Hagerstown
Education: B.S., college
Occupation: Myersville, Md., town manager
Party affiliation: Democrat
Political experience: More than one term on Hagerstown City Council; one term as Washington County Commissioner
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: Contrary to the City’s own calls in April for opening discussions to the public, this subject remains behind closed doors with little information and no actual public-private funding commitment. Without knowing the lease terms, financing formula, environmental analysis, and infrastructure costs, I don’t believe any candidate can take an informed position, especially given the Mayor’s remark that the Ripken study should be “tossed in the trash.” First, citizens deserve full public transparency. Second, projected costs now exceeding 40 million reaffirm my consistent belief that this issue belongs on the ballot, which by default will likely and rightly occur this November.
Q: How would you entice businesses to locate within city limits?
A: Government functions best when focused on its two primary purposes; infrastructure and service. To entice business retention and growth City investment is best spent on ensuring these obligations are fully funded. This focus must be proactive by identifying, prioritizing and improving the stability of each of these responsibilities from public works such as water & sewer, transportation, and maintenance to citizen well-being through parks, recreation, education and public safety. In concert with its public role, the City must work diligently to address hurdles and identify opportunities that encourage a competitive edge which will allow private economic development to thrive.
Q: In your opinion, what issue will be the most crucial facing the upcoming administration? How will you help address it?
A: There is no single “most crucial” issue facing the City, as the dynamics of our community are ever evolving. I would instead urge citizens to seek out candidates that are able to approach their service in the next administration with a firm ability and dedication to being able to most readily address the varied issues that will arise. That being said, given the role of Council, many issues will include decisions related to management of the public’s funds, and thus I believe the single greatest role of the elected body will always be responsible management of its limited fiscal resources.
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: First, every part of the City must be treated as equally vital to our success and growth. That said, all successful town centers appear built around a cohesive theme. If citizens decide against the stadium as proposed, I’d offer that a more lasting public benefit would be achieved by continuing our collective efforts toward expanding the presence of our educational system within downtown. This will both create a true daily presence of activity downtown and more importantly demonstrate our necessary commitment to developing an educated workforce to compete for much needed economic development and job opportunities on a regional scale.
Q: Does Hagerstown have enough public safety personnel? If not, what changes would you make and how would you fund any increases?
A: The City should continue identifying efforts with its respective local law enforcement agencies to create operational efficiencies for a more effective police workforce. However, I think developing a plan for the long term stability of our Fire and Rescue operations will be the larger public safety discussion in coming years. While the City remains a part of the County Volunteer system, it has become increasingly clear that we must take significant strides forward to address our modern obligations to this basic necessary public service. This will require candid public discussions to reach consensus on staffing levels, station placement and apparatus.
Editor's note: This story was edtied Oct. 15, 2012, to correct Aleshire's occupation and to add his party affiliation and political experience.