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Sunday, August 16, 2009

City of Frederick, Md. Candidate Forums

George Wenschhof

The City of Frederick, Maryland election is four weeks away and the battle to get the attention of the voters remains difficult for the candidates.

Less than 4500 of the 15,385 registered Democratic voters are expected to cast a ballot on September 15; the date of the primary. Republican voters will most likely be less than 3000 from the registered 10,009.

This in unfortunate as the primary is important for the respective political parties have their slates determined for the General Election on primary day. Compounding the problem is the apathy of the voters continues on General Election Day which is held on November 3 this year. On that day, if historical data is a guide, less than 10,000 voters will cast ballots out of a total registered voter number of 31,803. (voter registration numbers taken from data available on 7-23-2009).

I have written a number of columns on the importance of moving the city election date to coincide with the Presidential election cycle as I strongly believe democracy works best when people vote. The Presidential election cycle would result in a more than 70% voter turnout. To read my previous columns on this subject, click on the links located in the right hand margin of my Home Page.

Traditionally, many city candidates use door-to-door canvassing to get their message out and this year is no different. The first financial report is due tomorrow and as I mentioned in an earlier column, this is but a glimpse into a candidate's strength. You can read that column here.

Candidate Forums are always good to have, but unfortunately they are typically poorly attended. So, if a candidate is relying on political forums to get their message out to the voters, they are in trouble. The recent candidate forum held by WasteNot Frederick County and OurCommonWealth had only 20 non candidates attend and reportedly only 10 of them were city voters.

Fortunately, the Frederick News Post published comments from the candidates who attended this forum so other city voters could see a portion of a candidate's position when it comes to the issue of waste disposal. You can read that article here.

However, exactly what a candidate will support or propose in the area of waste disposal is not clearly spelled out to a large number of city voters. Realizing this, Democratic candidates for Mayor; Jennifer Dougherty and Jason Judd, both sent emails to supporters detailing their positions on this issue and the environment.

I would also encourage you to go to their campaign websites - their links are located in the right hand margin of my home Page and read their positions on this and other issues.

Nonetheless, this forum and the others to come are important and I encourage city voters to attend the upcoming scheduled forums and take a friend with you.

The upcoming week will have a candidate open house at the Talley Recreation Center on Wednesday from 7-9 PM sponsored by the Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NACS) - a great idea!

Frederick Community College and other sponsors will hold a mayoral forum on Tuesday August 18 from 7-9 PM and hold the Democratic Aldermen Candidate Forum from 7-9 PM on Tuesday September 1. Mark this on your calendars and plan to attend. I believe these forums will be taped and rebroadcast on local cable. If so, I will try to locate a link to the video and provide here for you to be able to view if you miss the live event.

Even more important, send emails to your friends and co-workers and ask them to go to all of the candidate forums and visit Democratic candidate websites often to read up on their positions on the issues.

Also, remind them of my interviews with the candidates that are linked on my website. I conclude my interviews with incumbent alderman David "Kip" Koontz tomorrow from 2-4 PM and John Daniels on Thursday from 5-7 PM.

Let's also hope the new Mayor and Board of Aldermen take the necessary steps to move the city election to coincide with the Presidential election cycle.


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