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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ken Kerr Wants to Serve Community in Annapolis

Ken Kerr
George Wenschhof
Although a familiar cliché in politics, Democratic candidate Ken Kerr was sincere when he told me his running for Maryland state delegate in district 3-b was motivated by his desire to serve and make the community a better place.  He added “I look at it as almost a duty to serve”.
Two years ago Dr. Kerr, who teaches at Frederick Community College, won a nonpartisan Frederick county-wide election to the school board. He informed me he would resign from that position if he won the state delegate race.  Otherwise, he would continue to serve on the school board for the remainder of the four year term.
Ken told me four years ago redistricting resulted in making voter registration between Republicans and Democrats in district 3-b almost even, with approximately 4,000 undeclared or independent voters who will likely have an important impact on the outcome.
In spite of the effort to turn the district blue, Republican William “Bill” Folden would win four years ago, beating Democratic candidate Stephen Slater.  In this election, neither Folden nor Kerr have a primary opponent so they will cruise to the general election held on November 6, 2018.
I asked Ken if he had been “recruited” to run for the seat by the state Democratic Party and he informed me that he had been contacted by a staff member in speaker Michael E. Busch’s (D) office last year.  He added it took about six months to make his decision.  Obviously, Democrats would like to capture this seat and they indicated they would offer support to Dr. Kerr’s campaign.
I would follow up with Ken and ask, “Do you support a nonpartisan redistricting manner to be used by the state of Maryland”?  He responded with “Yes, I support a national or regional approach to nonpartisan redistricting”.
Dr. Kerr’s education experience surely led to him sharing with me his desire to create apprenticeship programs with businesses for high school students, including dual enrollments with community colleges.
He supports the recently approved state funded two years of additional education and would like to expand this to a full four years.  Ken would also like to expand the career technology center, by adding another facility in southern Frederick County.
He told me “I strongly support funding for universal Pre-K for 4 year olds - it is understood the early years are very important in a child’s development”.
Kerr also wants to establish an earned income tax credit at the state level that mirrors the federal earned income tax credit that will help working families.
In light of the recent Supreme Court decision to allow states to determine whether to allow sports betting, I asked him his position on this issue.  Dr. Kerr told me “I would support legalizing sports betting and want money to go to education”.  He added “the state is not capturing any money from the underground betting that happens now”.  In addition, Ken felt fraternal organizations should be allowed slot machines.
In regards to medical marijuana, Ken said he supported this along with full decriminalization.  He told me “the state should also keep an eye on states with legalized recreation marijuana to see how effective these policies are before Maryland moves to legalize”.
I asked him if he supported the $16 million in state funding for the proposed downtown Frederick hotel and conference center and Dr. Kerr said “Yes, a conference center is needed downtown and the hotel will provide a place for tourists to stay after shopping and eating”.
In an email following my interview, I asked Ken, “Do you support the state ban of the sale of assault style weapons and high capacity ammunition clips”?
He responded with “I am not in favor of confiscating anyone's guns. What I propose is--if you have an AR15 or similar, you can keep it. It's yours. But it's ONLY yours. You can't sell it, you can't transfer it. Enjoy it while you live, because it dies with you. Beyond that, we ban future sales and limit clip sizes. Civilians do not need weapons of war.”
The ninety minute interview passed quickly.  You can visit his campaign website at and on Facebook:
Editor’s Note:  The Maryland primary election will be held on June 26, 2018 and the general election will take place on November 6, 2018.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Susan Reeder Jessee, a Refreshing Choice

Susan Reeder Jessee
George Wenschhof
In an era of attack dog style politics that has resulted in polarizing friends and communities, it was refreshing to spend ninety minutes interviewing Susan Reeder Jessee.  She is a Democratic candidate for one of the two at-large seats on the seven member Frederick County council.  Not once did she criticize another candidate or their position on an issue. 
The daughter of former county commissioner Bruce Reeder (D) and Democratic state central committee member Odette "Dottie" Reeder, Susan told me “I am running because I feel this is what I was meant to do. This is an opportunity to give back and I want to continue Mom and Dad’s work”.
Growing up in Frederick County and receiving her MBA from Hood College, she has seen firsthand the challenges brought about by growth.  Perhaps being a daughter, wife and mother in addition to being “around” politics throughout her life helped her in how she approaches issues.  Susan added “I have lived in four of the five districts so I know the county well.
When I asked about the issues most important to her, Susan said “I am not a single issue candidate”.  However, she told me economic development was important for the residents of Frederick County.  She believes we need to go outside of the county to target businesses for recruitment to bring jobs here.
Her background includes years spent as a Business Development Specialist for The City of Frederick and a member of the founding board of the first business incubator, The Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc. (FITCI).  Susan also served on the FITCI Client Selection committee.  She presently works as a project manager with IDT-Biologika.
Nearly 50% of the county budget goes toward education and Susan is proud to have received the endorsement of the Frederick County Teacher’s Association.  She remembers her tenth grade Biology teacher who inspired her to enter this field as a professional and wants Frederick County schools to be the best in the state.
Being aware of the needs of seniors is another area Susan is passionate about.  She spoke about the county Meals on Wheels program and tax initiatives to help seniors.
Affordable Housing is also important to Susan who feels the county has fallen way behind in providing affordable housing for the youth and seniors who live in the county.
When it comes to overall growth, Ms. Reeder Jessee wants to work and brainstorm with all community stakeholders to develop policies to get Frederick County in front of needed infrastructure and services.
Keeping neighborhoods safe and making sure first responders had what they needed was also important to Susan.
In regard to waste disposal, she wants to look at providing incentives to encourage recycling and composting, saying “you can’t force people to do this”.
Overall, Susan Reeder Jessee says “Let’s work together to move Frederick County forward”.
You can read more about Susan Reeder Jessee on her campaign website:
Editor’s Note: The primary will be held on June 26, 2018. In the Frederick County council race, voters will determine the two at-large candidates and the candidate for each of the five districts from the Democratic and Republican parties who will go on to appear on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot.