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Friday, August 28, 2009

Dougherty is the Right Choice for Mayor

George Wenschhof

I have written previously on numerous occasions, going into this City of Frederick, Maryland election, I had no horse in the race.

As a result, the many in-person discussions and live online Democratic candidate interviews I have conducted have been enlightening to me and I hope for my readers of Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof.

All of my live online candidate interviews are linked conveniently in the right hand margin and I encourage you to read them before you vote on September 15.

My discussions and interviews with the Democratic candidates for mayor have led me to support and cast my vote on September 15 for former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty.

The next decade will be a challenge for elected officials at all levels of government due to the serious worldwide recession.

What will be needed is a mayor who not only has a command of the issues, but the ability to implement and provide the necessary services of local government during a period of financial revenue shortfall. Jennifer Dougherty is the person most qualified and capable of ensuring an efficient city government during this time.

Dougherty has proposed 7 Steps to lower taxes, ways to control spending, invest in public safety and protect the environment. The details of each can be found on her campaign website;

Furthermore, her implementation of the Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NACs) during her term as mayor showed her commitment to reach out and include residents in the city decision making process.

Dougherty's successful economic development efforts along the "Golden Mile" and "Carroll Creek" during her previous administration are additional examples of how her experience will help the city in the years to come.

This decision to vote and support Jennifer Dougherty for mayor did not come without numerous interviews and considerable thought on my part.

My concerns with Jason Judd began when I first met and interviewed him at my favorite downtown deli "Beans and Bagels" in December 2008. Over a three hour period, I found Mr. Judd to be intelligent and thoughtful, but not decisive. In fact, after meeting him, one would be hard pressed to label Jason as an engaging or inspiring candidate.

A common comment many Democratic voters have shared with me after meeting him at a campaign organized House Party is, "I'm not one who loves Dougherty, but I'm voting for her over Jason because she is more qualified".

Since my first interview with Jason, up to and including the recent FCC candidate forum, he has continued to exhibit hesitancy in his answers to questions posed to him.

Under The City of Frederick government charter, the mayor is essentially the Chief Executive Officer who is responsible for making the day to day decisions in city government.

While Jason Judd did grow up in Frederick County and attend Governor Thomas Johnson High School, he did not move to the City of Frederick until November of 2007 and continues to commute to D.C. for work with the Service Employees International Union. His lack of time living in the city as an adult or working in the community could also prove troublesome in the capacity of mayor.

However, Mr. Judd's experience in community organizing has helped him run a competitive campaign.

Ms. Dougherty has lived and operated businesses in the city for twenty-two years, four of those years serving as mayor. In these lean times, her professional experience in the community and previous term as mayor will prove invaluable and be a benefit for city residents.

I have found the other Democratic candidate, hometown Chris Simpson to be extremely straightforward. He has often said "I don't know" to questions posed to him which is a refreshing response. However, he will not seriously compete for the Democratic Party nomination. I enjoyed meeting him and hope he stays involved in local politics.

Nonetheless, I do expect Simpson to draw more than just a token number of votes as his talk of public safety in various parts of the city, especially the west end, will resonate with some voters.

It is doubtful Mr. Simpson will draw votes from supporters of Ms. Dougherty. Instead, his votes will either be from residents who were not going to vote or he will draw votes from Mr. Judd who are from the "Anyone but Dougherty" block of voters.

Interestingly, some local Republican leaders have expressed to me their desire for the Republican Party nominee for Mayor to face Jason Judd in the General Election as they fear Dougherty would be a much more competitive opponent.

Much has been written, including by me, as to the acrimony that surrounded the previous Dougherty administration. Dougherty has learned and grown by that experience and deserves another term as Mayor. This time with a Board of Aldermen who will work with the mayor on behalf of the residents of the city.

Next week on Wednesday, I will discuss the Democratic candidates for Aldermen.


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