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Monday, December 9, 2013

Early Maneuvering Taking Place in Race for County Executive

George Wenschhof
The change to charter government in Frederick County, Maryland will go into effect with the 2014 election and early stage maneuvering is taking place in the county executive race.
Under charter, voters will elect a county executive and a seven member part time county council; five of the members being elected by districts and two of the members elected at large.
Former three term commissioner and president of the board; Democrat Jan Gardner is the only candidate who has filed to date for the county executive position.  A position that many will argue will be the most powerful in county politics.
With the announcement by Gardner, the more than twenty year battle over how the county should grow, is likely to continue.  Her official announcement has set up a colossal and much anticipated contest between Jan Gardner and Frederick board of commissioners’ president Blaine Young.
However, Young has put off announcing his intention until next year. 
In the 2006 election, four Democratic and Republican commissioner candidates formed a slate and ran for more managed growth. They called themselves “the dream team”.  The four candidates were; Jan Gardner (D), Kai Hagen (D), David Gray (R) and John Thompson (R).
In the 2010 election, the pendulum swung yet again and a “pro-business” slate of Republican candidates, led by Blaine Young were elected.
All of the members of the 2006-2010 dream team, including Gray were present to offer their support when Gardner made her recent announcement for county executive. David Gray, who received the top votes from the majority elected commissioners and won the President of the Board in the 2006 election, relinquished the gravel and allowed Jan Gardner to assume the position of president of the board. 
Which leads one to ask; why is Gray making noise he may run for county executive?  What is happening is early maneuvering by Republicans and Democrats.
Gardner, is trying to clear the field for an uncontested Democratic primary and there are political forces at work to try to encourage a more balanced candidate to run in the Democratic primary.  Some would argue a more developer friendly candidate to run against her.
Many of the supporters of Gardner are tied by their extreme dislike for board president Blaine Young, whose popularity has dropped tremendously over his three years in office.
Young’s reckless obsession to pursue privatization of government services, his instituting a questionable 25 year Developer Rights and Responsibility Agreement and his move to rezone a large portion of the county, has given them plenty of reason to be angry during the first three years he has served as president.
Some of the Gardner supporters believe it is supporters of Young who are trying to get a Democrat to run against her and so some of these folks believe Gray challenging Young in the Republican primary would be tit-for-tat.
It is extremely unlikely Gray would run against Gardner, if she would win the Democratic primary, making this scenario likely another rumor in the musical chairs taking place among local politicians.
Being the only candidate who has filed for county executive makes Jan Gardner the favorite at the moment.
However, lots of names have been floated with plenty of scenarios.  One has Republican state senator David Brinkley running for county executive and Blaine Young, with a residence change, running for state senator in district 4.
Another, has Republican sheriff Chuck Jenkins running for county executive. 
Don’t hold your breath for either of those rumors to become reality.
I reported after interviewing local attorney and Democrat Gordon Cooley, he had given it serious consideration but decided not to pursue a run.  Another Democratic I will be interviewing and who has had his name floated is former East Alco executive Earl Robbins.
Republican county commissioner Billy Shreve has also been mentioned, but he is not considered a strong candidate.
Look to see a contested race for county executive in both the Republican and Democratic primaries when the rapidly approaching February 25 deadline to file for candidacy, arrives.
This will be good for the voters of Frederick County – they deserve a choice.
Stay tuned.

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