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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Impressive Names Being Floated for County Executive

George Wenschhof

Blaine Young
Jan Gardner
Frederick County voters will, for the first time, elect a county executive and council in the 2014 state/county election.

The change to charter government was approved by referendum in the 2012 election.

The significant difference is voters will elect a county executive to be the administrator of Frederick County government and a council to complete the balance of power prevalent in American democracy.

The two names, everyone already has in their minds, which are likely to run for county executive are current Frederick Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) president Blaine Young (R) and former three term member and BoCC president Jan Gardner (D).

If, these two would become candidates and end up facing each other in a general election, it would be a classic battle between distinctly different political ideologies.  In addition, there is no love lost between these two.

Furthermore, the campaign cost is expected to easily reach $250,000 and the figure of $500,000 is entirely possible.  Blaine Young, who flirted with a run for Governor, already has an impressive war chest.

Blaine, has yet to formally announce he is running, leaving some aspiring Republican candidates hanging, as they know they would not be able to beat him in the primary.

There are also some who wish to see long term BoCC member David Gray (R), run against Blaine in the Republican primary, thinking he would at least weaken Blaine prior to the general election.  It is merely wishful thinking on their part, due to Gray has no history of raising funds and would likely get trounced by Blaine Young in the primary.

Jan Gardner, who I reported had established a candidate committee one month ago, is busy raising cash, calling on donors daily as she moves closer to filing for the seat.

But, before this colossal confrontation can take place, there are other influential individuals in the community who are considering a run for county executive, throwing a potential monkey wrench in the much anticipated Young-Gardner duel.

There are two impressive names who have surfaced; Gordon Cooley and Earl Robbins, both of them have extensive business and community involvement in Frederick County.  Cooley is a registered Democrat and when last checked, so was Robbins.

Cooley served 19 years as general counsel for F&M Bancorp and was recently the regional president for PNC Bank.

Robbins was a long term Alcoa Eastalco executive, with government relations experience in Annapolis, who presently chairs The City of Frederick downtown hotel/conference center committee.

Robbins and Cooley also served on the Frederick county board of education and chamber of commerce.

Cooley is chair of the Weinberg center for The Arts, a member of Interfaith Housing Alliance, and former president of the Frederick County Bar Association.

Robbins is vice chair of Frederick County Business Development Advisory Committee, on the Hood College Board of Associates and was a alternate member of the charter writing board.

Word is Gordon Cooley is making the rounds, talking with folks as he contemplates a run for county executive.

Jan Gardner would be faced with a formidable opponent in either Cooley or Robbins, who are well known in the professional community.

However, Jan would have an initial edge in direct political experience, in campaigning and voter identification. 

A closely contested and costly Democratic primary might serve to Blaine Young’s advantage.

On the otherhand, Blaine may not fare well against a seasoned professional businessman as his Democratic opponent.

Look to see announcements made by candidates for county executive to happen shortly after The City of Frederick election on November 5.  Candidates will not want their campaign announcement to get lost in the holiday hoopla that begins with Thanksgiving and lasts into early January.

Stay tuned.
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