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Monday, August 10, 2009

City of Frederick, Md. Election Update 8-10-2009

George Wenschhof

As the dog days of August are now upon us all, the candidates for mayor and alderman find themselves with only five weeks to campaign until the primary on September 15.

City of Frederick Democratic and Republican voters will be choosing their slate of five aldermen and mayor to move forward to the general election on November 3.

I have kept busy getting to know the Democratic candidates and publishing live online interviews with them on my site. I will complete my candidate interviews on August 20. You can read them by clicking on their links in the right hand margin of my Home Page.

The next five weeks will include a couple of candidate forums as spelled out in the Frederick News Post here. Other than these opportunities to get to know the candidates, it is up to them to get their message across to the voters.

So far, the candidates for mayor and aldermen have concentrated on what they believe in and why they are running for office. There have not been any publicized spats between candidates or strong attacks against an opponent. I still see the Democratic race for mayor being neck and neck between former mayor Jennifer Dougherty and political newcomer Jason Judd.

The main way candidates have been using to meet the voters is the old fashioned shoe leather and time consuming method of going door to door. Radio, TV, phone calling and direct mail are limited to those candidates who have raised sufficient funds to do so. These more costly methods are traditionally utilized in the last one to two weeks preceding the election.

Speaking of funds, the first campaign finance report is due on August 17. We will be able to get a glimpse of the success, or lack thereof of the fundraising efforts by the candidates. I have not heard much gloating coming from any candidate so my guess is the initial reports will show limited funds raised. Four years ago, former Mayor Ron Young reportedly spent well over $100,000 only to lose to a newcomer to politics, Republican Jeff Holtzinger. During this time of economic hardship for many, do not look to see that figure duplicated in this election.

However, don't always look to see these first reports be a accurate reflection of the financial strength of a candidate. It is not uncommon for some candidates to "sandbag" their financing as they realize they do not have to file another finance report until three weeks following the primary. In other words, they would hold back their strong fundraising efforts until after the August 17 report, but before the September 15 primary. Their opponents may be lured into thinking they are weak financially.

On the other hand, a weak financial report can also be used to mobilize support and encourage donations for a candidate. So, that is why I say these first reports are a glimpse into the candidate's financial strength.

It is also very common for candidates to contribute to their own campaigns, especially in the beginning, so expect to see this show up in many of the reports.

Alderman candidate Karen Young, looking to save money and to recycle, is using her husband's campaign signs "Young for Mayor" from four years ago, by cutting off the bottom half which said "for Mayor" and leaving "Young".

Incumbent Democratic alderman David Koontz, who was the last to file, finally has his campaign website up and his signs which say "Kip" are beginning to pop up in neighborhoods. He is my guest on the website on Monday August 17 from 2-4 PM.

Alderman candidate Andrew Kotkin who is my guest tomorrow from 7-9 PM told me his campaign signs arrived recently but his name was misspelled and were sent back.

Plenty can transpire during a campaign season in the last five weeks prior to the primary.

Stay Tuned.


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