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Monday, January 31, 2011

Young Making Her Mark As Alderwoman

George Wenschhof

Karen Young is one of four members of the Young family serving in elected office in Frederick County, Maryland. She preceded the election of her husband Ron and two of his sons; Blaine and Brad, who all won election last year.

The year before, Karen was the top vote getter in the City of Frederick alderperson race, earning the mostly ceremonial nod, as Mayor Pro-Tem.

During that 2009 city campaign, she earned my respect as she tirelessly campaigned, taking nothing for granted.

She exhibited her private sector experience during that campaign, when she utilized online surveys to help her see what were some of the issues important to voters.

She has continued using surveys to reach out to voters over the first fourteen months in office.

In a recent sit down conversation over coffee, Karen shared some thoughts with me about her short time as alderperson.

I had asked for the meeting as I was interested in hearing her thoughts on her first year in office.

She was particularly enthusiastic about her experience serving as a member of the legislative committee with the Maryland Municipal League.

The committee was focusing on trying to recapture their share of the state highway user funds. The drastic reduction of funds a result of the tough state budget balancing act of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's (D) administration.

She had set up a meeting with the Frederick News Post Editorial Board in hopes of receiving media attention and hopefully their support.

She was successful on both counts, receiving a nice write up on January 26, which highlighted the three million in reduction of funds the City of Frederick had received from the state from FY 2007 to FY 2011.

The Frederick News Post followed up with an editorial on January 30, which threw their support behind her efforts and those of the Maryland Municipal League to restore highway user funding to municipalities in Maryland.

She has my support as well. However, with the state facing tough choices in balancing the budget, I am not overly optimistic municipalities across the state will have highway user funds restored to anywhere near FY 2007 levels.

During our conversation, I informed Karen she had caught my attention when I read how she objected to the attempted sole source lease of city space at a sweetheart deal.

This has been an issue with city owned properties for quite some time as set procedures on selling/leasing have not consistently been in place.

She agreed a procedure should be in place and followed by city staff. As a result of her intervention in this case, a notice of thirty days for interested parties to submit a proposal was advertised by the city.

A move in the right direction. However, the individuals negotiating terms previously had much longer than thirty days to discuss with city staff acceptable terms of a lease.

Discussion of the erection of a fence along the once "golden mile" came up in passing, with Karen commenting it looked better than she would have thought and with some landscaping, could look even better.

She acknowledged, without much prodding on my part, it did not address the need for improved safety for pedestrian crossing or the larger need of redevelopment of the area.

As time was winding down and Karen needing to head off to her editorial board meeting, I let her know I was interested in meeting again to discuss her priorities for the next year.

In the meantime, I asked if she would email me a list. Following is the list I received from her:

My 2011 priorities (fiscal 2011/2012):

1. Balanced Budget

2.Road and Bridge maintenance

3.Comply with state waste water management requirements in a fiscally responsible manner

4.Pension and benefit reform

5.FOP contract

6.Harry Grove Stadium contract

7.Road improvements and expansions (other than maintenance issues)

8.Create more structured debt policy

9.Create a leasing policy for city properties

10.Implement Containment Laboratory Community Advisory Committee

11.Next phase of Carroll Creek Park

12.Develop a Sustainability Plan

13.Other (charter review, reduce trash increase re-cycling, revisit rental registration/licensing, revisit land value tax, implement revised employee policies and procedures manual)

14.Develop a long-term plan for Hargett Farm.

An ambitious list and one I look forward to discussing with her when we meet next.

Keep an eye on Ms. Young, as I suspect she will continue to exhibit her strong work ethic and desire to address the concerns of voters.

It also may not be too early to consider the thought of Karen Young running for Mayor in 2013. A question I did not have the time to ask her during this meeting.


Editor's Note:
In response to reader requests, this is the first of what will be a series of columns based on interviews with city elected officials.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Young versus Judd, either we get a strong candidate out of the battle, or the vote is split again and Randy remains. How about a third choice?