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Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Meet The Candidate" Jason Judd - Live Online Answers to Your Questions

George Wenschhof Bio

Tonight, for one hour beginning at 7:00 PM ET here on this post, Democratic candidate for Mayor of The City of Frederick will answer questions you submitted earlier this week. Last week, the other Democratic candidate to file so far for Mayor, Jennifer Dougherty answered your questions. You can read them here. The deadline to file for office is July 7.

We received twelve questions from readers and ranked them in an order to be asked to Mr. Judd. We will first post the question here and upon receipt of the answer from Mr. Judd we will post it. We will continue until one hour has elapsed. Remember to hit "refresh" every ten minutes or so to see the recent questions and answers on this post throughout the hour.

If you happen to miss this live online exchange, we will post a link to this in the upper right hand margin of our Home Page under "Meet the Candidate Online Forums" so you can easily access at a later date. We plan to offer these "Meet The Candidate" forums once a month over the course of the campaign.

We want to thank those of you who asked questions and Mr. Judd for taking the time to answer your questions.

Jason, the first question is:

1.Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He has taken on tough issues that matter to people and businesses here in Frederick. For example, he challenged the nation's biggest companies to play by the rules on taxes and health care." the former is from your website... what are the nations largest companies that you are refering to? What rules were they breaking on Healthcare and Taxes and how did you Jason Judd make them play by the rules?

April 8, 2009 6:21 PM

First, thanks to George for putting this together. It's like an on-line version of the house meetings we've been organizing around town.

I've worked as a national campaign director for the last 4-5 years. That means I've helped move issues that matter to ordinary families--like making health care more affordable or tax policies more fair--in the Congress and at the state level, especially here in Maryland.

Over the years, campaigns I've led have challenged companies like Wal-Mart and Bank of America to change some of their practices. Here's an example. Wal-Mart has used a tax structure called 'captive REIT' to avoid paying Maryland income taxes. That means Maryland businesses--and every small business owner in Frederick--is paying more because Wal-Mart is paying less. That's not fair and I worked in Annapolis to stop abuse of the captive REIT tax structure.

Here's an example on health care: a good number of our biggest companies have been pushing employees into the state's Medicaid program. That means ordinary taxpayers and small businesses are picking up the health care costs for some of the biggest companies in the country. I've worked, alongside lots of others, to shine a light on this practice.

Here's another example. Bank of America is running up credit card interest rates even on customers who play by the rules--we pay on time and we pay what we owe. Today's Wall Street Journal has a story on it. The big banks reserve the right to change our rates "at any time, for any reason". I don't think it's fair, so I've helped move a bill this year in the Maryland General Assembly, H.B. 1048, to stop it. We'll know Monday if our bill's going to make it.

I'd never say that I made these changes. These are major campaigns and I'm proud to be a part of them. My work has taught me that we shouldn't be afraid to work together to change practices of big institutions that are hurting our families, our businesses.

2. Anonymous said...
I live and work in downtown Frederick and I am concerned about the local economy, specifically small businesses down here. What do you think the city can do to help small businesses? How will you, if elected Mayor make a difference to local business owners?
April 8, 2009 5:56 PM

I've spent a lot of time in the last year listening to business owners in the city. Small businesses in Frederick need a real advocate in the Mayor's Office. I know that our best job growth comes from small businesses and we've got to help them find their feet and grow.

First, I will streamline our land management code--that's the set of City rules that tell you what you can do and how. We'll make it faster and simpler for small businesses to get started and grow here. The code we've got runs to more than a thousand pages and getting into compliance can cost a business owner many extra months and many thousands of dollars. We've lost investments here because our process can be so unwieldy. That's bad for Frederick's economy.

Second, we will create better jobs in Frederick with incubators like FITCI aimed at helping entrepreneurs in IT and "green jobs" fields find their markets. Our campaign more details.

Third, we will invest in the branding of Frederick so that our message about visiting, living, and doing business in Frederick is getting heard more widely. This is done piecemeal now and the City needs to leverage a major investment in our message.

Finally, for dowtown specifically, we will get built--at long last--a downtown hotel that helps us draw conferences and other events. We've got a jewel of a downtown and we need to make investments that will help pull people into our streets for days rather than hours.

3. Anonymous said...
What have you learned with your union organizing experience that will help you if elected mayor?
April 6, 2009 1:10 PM

That's a great question. I spent one year--15 years ago--as a union organizer, and it's really my work as a community organizer and campaign director that's taught me the judgment and skills a good Mayor needs.

My website has more details about the work I've done, but here are some of the lessons I've learned.

First, I've learned how to organize not just people but institutions--congregations, business leaders, schools, elected leaders--to do things together that maybe we thought weren't possible. I know how to bring together people with very different perspectives. I've learned how important it is to build and sustain relationships if you want to make change.

Second, I've learned how to see the big picture and ask the right questions, to delegate jobs so I don't get bogged down micro-managing projects better left to staff. A good Mayor and a good organizer needs to have imagination, the ability to see alternatives and be flexible.

Third, I've learned how to motivate and lead staff, working together to get the most from very limited resources. There's never enough money in the projects I've led to do all the things we'd like to do.

Finally, I know the value of listening to everyday experts--people who have ideas about how to make the city better, and the energy to help us make them happen.

4. Anonymous said...
The City of Frederick partnered 5 years ago to create a business incubator that is still strong and viable today...when you are describing creating a business incubator what are you talking about? And where do you propose to get the money to fund and additional incubator?
April 8, 2009 5:32 PM

I wrote about creating a jobs incubator in my answer to the second question here. An initial budget for an IT or green jobs incubator is $40-50,000. That's a tiny investment in Frederick companies that will help drive long-term economic growth in the city.

Some of the funding for it and similar investments we can draw in from Annapolis or Capitol Hill in the form of grants. I know how to operate in both and will campaign hard to make sure Frederick is getting what we need from the state and federal governments.

And in spite of the huge cuts the City's facing this year--and likely next--we'll get some savings from contract bids that are coming in lower because the competition for work is so fierce.

Here's another proposal that will help us create good longer-term economic growth. Let's create an Frederick Education Partnership that helps kids coming out of our high schools with high grades and attendance rates to go to a local college like FCC. We want to invest in them and help them win the good jobs we've creating here in Frederick.

Even though we are now at 8:00 PM ET, Mr. Judd has agreed to stay on for one more question.

5. Anonymous said...
I have 3 kids in public school in Frederick. Tell me how you can make a difference in our school systems? What does the City have to do with education?
April 8, 2009 5:58 PM

Good question. Pouv and I have two kids, one's at Parkway now and the other's on her way. My mother was a Frederick County teacher for 30-odd years. What happens in our schools matters enormously to me and I think the City can be a powerful partner with our schools and colleges.

My last answer started to get at specific proposals to invest in education, and workforce education in particular. Here is another commitment I'll make.

First, let's make sure Frederick High School is renovated at last--no more delays. FHS is doing great things in that old building, but it's way past time we brought it into the modern age.

I will be an advocate for our city schools and students--not just helping to speed renovations, but joining others to find ways the City can help close the achievement gap.

Lots of students from all over the city are helping us build this campaign because they want to help move Frederick forward, and they know we're focused on their future.

Thanks for your questions and this opportunity. To learn more about the campaign or join us, go to our website: .


Editor's Note: We have not endorsed any candidate in the upcoming City of Frederick election.


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