Mayor of Hagerstown Resigns Suddenly

By Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 3, 2006

Hagerstown Mayor Richard Trump, who ran for office on a Republican slate that promised to return God to City Hall, abruptly resigned without explanation after nine months in office.

"As of February 1, 2006, I respectfully resign the position of Mayor," Trump wrote in an awkwardly worded two-sentence letter to the Hagerstown City Council on Wednesday. "I respect your understanding in this manner [sic] and will be glade [sic] to cooperate with any matters."

His move stunned fellow elected officials. Everything appeared normal as recently as Tuesday, when a City Council meeting was held without any of the conflict that had often marked the mayor's relationship with the all-Democratic council.

"It feels good, like I'm at peace," Trump, a local publisher, said yesterday in a brief telephone interview, which he cut short because he was in a meeting. Further efforts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Trump won election to a four-year term in May 2005, running with a slate of five other Republicans, who lost. The slate raised $64,200, nearly twice the $33,700 spent by all candidates in 2001.

The city is accepting applications to fill Trump's seat for the rest of his term, and the city charter requires replacements to be members of the same political party. The deadline to submit an application is Feb. 15.

Controversy seemed to follow controversy after Trump took office. Among other things, Trump and the council battled over land use and development. Trump was more pro-growth on development, the council more slow-growth. Their battles sometimes became heated, several council members said.

"He had made personal issues out of various topics with various members," council member Kristin B. Aleshire said.

Six months ago, council members sent Trump an open letter rebuking him for his failure to heed procedural rules and maintain decorum during meetings and asked him to avoid personal attacks. Several council members said the letter seemed to help.

"I would say it was way behind us," council member Lewis C. Metzner said.

A week ago, Aleshire asked the mayor about rumors that he would resign, and he said the mayor denied them. "I felt it would be a black eye to the city," Aleshire said he told the mayor.

Others wondered whether the resignation was connected to changes at Hagerstown Magazine, which Trump started in October 2004. The Associated Press reported Dec. 31 that the magazine was cutting its ties to the mayor.

RidgeRunner LLC, a new publishing company, said it would relaunch the magazine with almost the same staff but without links to Trump, the AP reported. A call to Kate Rader, the head of the new publication, was not returned.

"People were always wondering what happened with the magazine," Metzner said.

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