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Friday, December 19, 2008

New Wave of Democrats Eye Mayor for The City of Frederick, MD in 2009

George Wenschhof Bio

The City of Frederick, Maryland will hold their election next year and the voters will decide on their Mayor and five Aldermen. The first date a candidate can file for office is January 5, 2009 and the last date to file for office is July 7, 2009. The primary election will be held on September 15 and the general election on November 3, 2009.

Fortunately, in what appears to be a short lived snafu, the Frederick County Board of Elections and The City of Frederick officials will meet on Monday December 22, to resolve issues surrounding who will run the election in 2009.

The reason for the momentary confusion is the state legislature had passed legislation moving to voting machines with paper ballots by the 2010 election and questions existed as to whether the existing voting machines could be used for the city election in 2009. The lack of action taken by the state led the local board of elections to inform the city they would be unable to conduct their election.

Soon after this announcement, the Maryland Board of Public Works voted to extend the contract with the vendor for the existing machines so hopefully the Frederick County Board of Elections will soon reach an agreement with the city to run the election.

I am hopeful for a resolution to be reached on Monday as I as well as many others have found the Election Director of the Frederick County Board of Elections, Mr. Stuart Harvey and his staff to be professional as well as courteous in our interactions with them.

The first two Democrats to publicly announce their interest to run for mayor are Jack Lynch and Jason Judd, both of who one might classify as part of a new wave of Democrats in the city.

While they may be new names in Democratic politics, neither one is new to Frederick. Mr. Judd graduated from Governor Thomas Johnson High School and Mr. Lynch and his family moved to Frederick over eight years ago.

They are both married with children and one thing which struck me when talking with both is their desire of a future vision for the City of Frederick.

Incumbent Republican Mayor Jeff Holtzinger has yet to announce his intention regarding running for reelection. To many, he has been a breath of fresh air after the previous four years of constant battling between former Democratic Mayor Jennifer Dougherty and Republican Aldermen Bill Hall and David Lenhart.

Concerns that have risen during Mayor Holtzinger's term pertain to his residency, an early retirement program instituted for city employees and the city condemnation process of land for a city park.

I asked both Mr. Lynch and Mr. Judd to weigh in on my November 28, 2008 column calling for the City of Frederick elections to be moved to coincide with the Presidential election year. This would result in a cost savings for the election and also would more than double the current anemic 32% voter turnout in the general election.

Both indicated they would support a charter amendment by the current Mayor and Board moving the City of Frederick election date and would be fine with serving a three year term from 2009-2012. Beginning in 2012, the city elected officials would serve four year terms.

Mr. Lynch made his official announcement to run for Mayor in a two part column published July 10 and 11, 2008 on Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof. You can read part one here and part two here He has also developed a website you can visit here.

In a recent meeting with Jason Judd, I informed him we will also publish a column from him when he makes his official announcement to run for Mayor which he agreed to send to us. We will do the same for all of the Democratic candidates for Mayor and Aldermen.

As in the case with Mr. Lynch, our policy is we will not publish columns from the candidates after their announcement of candidacy. However, we intend to offer online forums for the Democratic candidates so our City of Frederick viewers can ask them questions and read the responses from the candidates. We will also provide links to all of their websites as they become available.

Mr. Judd is still in the process of talking with many city residents and close advisers as he moves toward making an official announcement. He continues to discuss the issues with voters and is developing his positions on them. One prominent local Democrat who is offering support to Mr. Judd as he considers joining the race for Mayor is former four term Mayor, Ron Young. Mr.Young was the Democratic candidate for Mayor in the 2005 election who lost a close election to the current Mayor, Republican Jeff Holtzinger.

Two others have already written a "Letter to the Editor" supporting Jason Judd for Mayor which were published in the Frederick News Post. One was written by James Racheff which can be read here. The other was written by a former Teacher of Jason Judd, Michael Bunitsky and you can read his letter here.

Jack Lynch informed me he intends to file on January 5, 2009, the first day a candidate is allowed to do so. He expects to name his wife as Treasurer and wants to immediately begin raising funds for the campaign. Jason Judd is still talking to folks and weighing their advice as to when to formally file for Mayor.

Although neither individual is currently a household name, let's listen to what they have to say and see what their vision is for the future of the City of Frederick. Remember, four years ago, the current mayor Jeff Holtzinger was unknown by many voters.

Other rumored Democrats considering running for mayor are all three current City of Frederick Democratic Aldermen; Donna Kuzemchak, Marcia Hall and David "Kip" Koontz.

A not so wild card entry would be former one-term City of Frederick Mayor Jennifer Dougherty. She just lost the 6th District Congressional race to incumbent Republican Roscoe Bartlett by the same margin as Democratic candidate Andrew Duck in 2006. I published a column November 6, 2008 on the results here.

She recently weighed in on a City of Frederick - Frederick County issue pertaining to $500,000 of road improvements to Rosemont Avenue by writing a "Letter to the Editor" published in the Frederick News Post. You can read it here.

Interestingly, while Ms. Dougherty was handily beaten by Representative Bartlett in the remaining portions of the 6th District, she won Frederick County election district 2 with 56.51% to Bartlett who received 39.83% of the vote. Mr. Harvey informed me election district 2 is the major part of the City of Frederick, which also includes minor portions of election districts 13, 21, 23, and 24.

Worth noting is the voter registration numbers in district 2 favor Democratic candidates. Total Voter Registration: 37,010, Dems: 17,506 - 47%, GOP: 11,933 - 32%, Unaffiliated: 7,175 - 19%.

January 5, 2009, the first day to file for office, will officially kick off the City of Frederick election. Stay Tuned.


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