Thursday, October 16, 2014

Q&A with John Barr, candidate for County Commissioner

The following are answers to the WashCo Chronicle County Commissioner candidates' questionnaire for John Barr, candidate for County Commissioner. Thank you very much Mr. Barr for responding to the questionnaire!

1)     Why should the citizens of Washington County vote for you to become a member of the County Commissioners?
I am a lifelong resident of Washington County and have been involved in this community through business, non-profit community endeavors and philanthropic my entire adult life. I have had the opportunity to serve two terms as County Commissioner and will strive to work with ever ounce of energy serving a third term if given the opportunity. Over the past eight years, I have worked hard to demonstrate leadership in a cooperative nonpartisan way. I look forward to representing Washington County as MACo President (Maryland Association of Counties). I feel that having the opportunity to demonstrate this leadership in a state wide initiative, will only be an added benefit to Washington County.

2)     What do you feel is the most important challenge currently facing our county? How will you address this challenge?
Without a doubt I feel the most important challenge Washington County is currently facing is economic development. We are extremely challenged with our geographic location having a very competitive spirit both north and south of our borders. Expediting and increasing business, jobs and economic development is vital, an emphasis on raising our tax base and not our tax rate. I plan to encourage continual and increased local business visits to becoming more aware of local businesses and their operation in assisting with regulatory, permit and environmental issues. I will also continue to reach out as having done over the last eight years to organizations such as Allegiant Air, First Energy and many others.

3)     What are your thoughts on the Western Maryland New State Initiative – an attempt to break off Western Maryland from the rest of Maryland, in order to better protect our area’s interest?
These ideas on the surface seem to have some merit. However, with all the legal, tax implications and overall logistics such talk only further alienates our counter parts in leadership in Annapolis. Once again, with the help of MACo (Maryland Associations of Counties) I would like to think that a rural Maryland coalition counterpart can assist both Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore with collaborating with leadership in Annapolis to realize that our state is quite diverse and has major differences throughout its region. With a 250 year history of our boundaries the state impediments deeply rooted, succession is not the right answer.

4)     With the increase in cost of running fire and ems service in Washington County and the decrease in volunteerism how do you plan to increase funding or do you plan to propose a fire tax?
I am not in favor of a fire tax at this time. As a County Commissioner I would work and make every effort to increase the communication, transparency and financial accountability of our fire, rescue and EMS services. I feel strongly that with local and state assistance, along with local fundraising and an element of continued volunteerism is of utmost importance. Citizenship and volunteerism needs to take on a whole new perspective. The layers of regulation that have been added in most recent years, stifle volunteerism and compounded cost of operations. These need to have a serious review.

5)     If elected, what will you do to bring more businesses into Washington County, and boost our economy?
We need to establish and recognize our planned growth areas. Locally, we have a group that is opposed to any type of expansion or development. The Chamber, Greater Hagerstown Committee, City Council, County Commissioners, Economic Development Staff and Airport Commission need to pull together in a positive, forward thinking group to promote Washington County.

6) Do you have any closing statements you'd like to include?
It has been an honor to represent Washington County and serve this community for the past eight years. I would be greatly honored if given the opportunity to serve a third and final term, as I do believe in term limits, representing Washington County in a hardworking, loyal, honest and forthright fashion. I thank all of those who have trusted me with these years of service to our community.  -John F. Barr

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