Political Novice Battles Mayor Hirsch In Havre De Grace

March 31, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

The Havre de Grace mayor's race this spring is a textbook example ofa campaign novice taking on a political veteran.

Incumbent Gunther D. Hirsch, seeking his second two-year term as mayor, is being challenged by newcomer Jane Jacksteit in the May 7 election.

The next mayor is expected to take a less active role in the daily management of the government of the waterfront community of 9,000 people when a city manager comes on board within the next three monthsto handle daily operations.

Hirsch, a 65-year-old retired physician, said he is seeking re-election so he can complete several city projects he started in his first term.

"I think I'm doing a good job," said Hirsch, a registered Democrat who spent six years on the CityCouncil before becoming mayor. "People are reasonably happy. I'd like to keep doing the job."

But Jacksteit said Havre de Grace needs a change of leadership.

"I feel that we need an alternative," the 73-year-old Republican said. "I was looking for somebody else to run.Somebody turned out to be myself."

Both candidates said they willdistribute fliers and conduct door-to-door campaigns up until election day.

In addition to the mayor's race, Havre de Grace voters will select three new City Council members. Voter registration for city residents ends April 8.

The following is a summation of the candidates' backgrounds as well as legislative and other proposals they would pursue if elected.

Gunther D. Hirsch

Hirsch said his chief goal is to see that the city government provides quality services within a balanced budget.

"My main approach is that government is a service organization," Hirsch said.

Hirsch said he doesn't expect the city to have much difficulty maintaining its programs, despite cutsin aid from the state and federal government.

The mayor said he expects the city's main source of revenue -- property taxes -- to remain stable. But he's worried the city could lose as much as $20,000 instate and federal money in the new fiscal year.

"That is something, obviously, we don't like," Hirsch said. "But in real dollars, that is not a terrible decrease."

Hirsch said the city will need his experience to determine what can be trimmed from its budget so that key services can be provided and long-term projects can be completed.

If re-elected, Hirsch said he will work on completing several improvement projects, including improvements to streets, the storm-water management system and waste-water treatment facility.

Hirsch said he wants Havre de Grace to start construction of a boardwalk-type promenade along the city's waterfront. The first phase of the project would consist of a 1,000-foot walkway between the Decoy Museum and the Concord Point Lighthouse.

Hirsch has long been involved in community organizations before he entered Havre de Grace politics eight years ago. He established the Havre de Grace Art Show and the Harford Opera Company.

Hirsch, who received his medical degree from the University of Geneva in Switzerland, moved to Havre de Grace 36 years ago to set up his medical practice.

Hirsch and his wife, Suzie, have three daughters, all of whom

are doctors.

Jane Jacksteit

Jacksteit, who has never sought political office before, said she sees the main issue facing Havre de Grace as historical preservation.

Havre de Grace has undergone significant growth during the last several years, Jacksteit said, and the city must take steps before its character is obliterated by new development.

"Once you lose that character, you become part of the metropolitan-suburban mishmash," Jacksteitsaid. "(The city) is going to look like nothing."

Jacksteit said she is concerned that Havre de Grace is risking its growing tourism industry if development continues to go unchecked. She believes the city's historic character attracts visitors.

She added that she wants to see the city establish strict guidelines to protect historic structures in what she calls the "old city."

"People do not understand that historical preservation makes money," Jacksteit said. "There is a misunderstanding about that in our community."

Meanwhile, the city also can continue to encourage industrial, commercial and high-density residential development in other parts of town, particularly along the Route 40 corridor, Jacksteit said.

By allowing controlledgrowth and protecting historic structures, the city will maintain its character and continue to have a growing tax base, Jacksteit said.

Jacksteit is a former president of the Concord Point Lighthouse directors and a member of the Battery Island Preservation Society. She is a member of the Harford Memorial Hospital auxiliary and a volunteer at the Steppingstone Museum at Susquehanna State Park.

Jacksteitand her husband, Berthold, moved to Havre de Grace in 1973 for theirretirement. The Jacksteits, who have five daughters, moved from Valley Forge, Pa.

Jacksteit worked as a secretary for 18 years at several Philadelphia area firms. Her husband is a retired American Baptist pastor.

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