All seven candidates to appear on the ballot in Tuesday’s Frostburg election, including the three who are running unopposed, participated in a well-attended forum Thursday night.

The forum was presented by University Neighbors, an association of residents and property owners in the neighborhood adjacent to Frostburg State University.

Two elected positions are contested, the commissioner of public works, being sought by incumbent Susan Keller and challenger Jeff Bailey, and the commissioner of public safety, for which Robert Flanigan and Jay Stokes will compete.

Running unopposed are Mayor Arthur Bond, Finance Commissioner Richard Weimer and Water, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Doug Lemmert.

The two candidates for commissioner of public safety agreed that every possible effort must be made to achieve a competitive salary for city police officers so that they don’t leave for more pay at other enforcement agencies once they have fulfilled a three-year work contract.

Flanigan pointed out that he was a Frostburg police officer for 19 years before leaving to work in the local real estate industry.

“I wrote more than $700,000 worth of state grants for the department,” Flanigan said. “I’ve been asked to run for this office by my fellow citizens.”

Stokes, an FSU student and student government officer, said that he has often cooperated with campus enforcement officers attempting to calm or defuse volatile situations.

“I want to be the vanguard and an ambassador for public safety,” Stokes said. “I want everybody to know who Jay Stokes is.”

Flanigan said he would not want in Frostburg what has happened in Allegany County, where there are no sheriff’s patrols from midnight to 8 a.m., or in the town of Lonaconing, which went without municipal police coverage for months.

“We all need to pull together to maintain the Frostburg Police Department,” Flanigan said.

Stokes said he recognizes that there are confrontations between university students and area law enforcement officers. “The students need someone who they can relate to,” he said. “I can be an intermediate. They would be receptive to me. I am one of them and not just an authority figure.” Stokes thanked city police for providing a presence during a Walk for Africa event recently.

This will be the second time Bailey has challenged Keller to be commissioner of public works. In 2006, Keller received 499 votes, Dennis Bridges 406 votes and Bailey 337 for that position.

Bailey said Thursday that he is opposed to increases in the city’s property tax and is in favor of a more open form of government.

“People can’t afford more city property tax with the cost of living, the increase in gas prices and the increases in state taxes,” he said. He, too, said he would work to “stop the revolving door” for city police officers.

Bailey, who is working toward a master’s degree at FSU, emphasized his willingness to learn the appropriate facts about the city’s financial situation, which would lead to good decisions on his part.

Keller asked for votes based upon her six years of experience in the public works position, a responsibility she said she takes very seriously.

Keller said she is a board member of FrostburgFirst and the Main Street Program. She said she was instrumental in acquiring an upcoming FSU presence on Main Street where the university will open a bookstore in the renovated Lyric Building.

Bailey said he has full confidence in Main Street Program Manager Jerilyn Jackson in her work to improve conditions on that thoroughfare.

Bond said he believes his decades of public service for the city and as an Allegany County commissioner have resulted in contacts at private and governmental levels that serve all the citizens.

“I have a lot of friends who can help Frostburg,” he said.

Lemmert, nearing the completion of his first term, said he will consider the creation of a public recreation area in or near Braddock Estates after consulting with residents there about their views.

Weimer cited a number of issues he hopes to deal with in the upcoming term, including additional cost cutting.

Voting takes place Tuesday at the Frostburg Community Center on South Water Street from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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