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Thursday, March 12, 2009

City of Frederick, MD Democratic Chatter

George Wenschhof Bio

The race for Mayor of the City of Frederick is shaping up as a do-over of the 2005 election. All indications are former Democratic Mayor Jennifer Dougherty will announce her candidacy any day now. While another former Mayor Ron Young, her Democratic opponent in the 2005 city election, is supporting newcomer Jason Judd. The other Democratic candidate for Mayor is Jack Lynch.

For Ms. Dougherty, this will make her sixth attempt for public office while it is the first for Mr. Judd and Mr. Lynch. It was just last year Ms. Dougherty won the Democratic party nomination for Congress in the sixth district of Maryland. While she did not do any better in the general election than the Democratic nominee Andrew Duck did in the 2006 election, she did win the City of Frederick with 56% of the vote.

She did work hard at mending fences after the 2008 Congressional primary so look to see her continue to work at finding common ground among city voters. So far, in addition to her closest advisers, she has been reaching out to members in the community to discuss her interest in running for Mayor. Upon hearing of former city alderman Bill Hall's intention to run again Ms. Dougherty placed a call and had a conversation with him. She has also met with alderman Marcia Hall who recently announced she would not be running for any office this year. Marcia Hall had briefly entertained running for Mayor.

If Dougherty wins, she will be 2-6 in her attempts for elective office and at .333, that would make her a superstar in major league baseball today. If she would lose, at 1-6 and .166, she would be out of baseball and most likely any future quest for elected office would be over as well. The often visible and reported disagreements between Mayor Dougherty and Republican aldermen became a distraction during her term in office. However, if she has learned to lay off the high fastball and learned to hit the curve ball, expect a very competitive race and a good shot at returning to city hall.

Look for Ms. Dougherty to focus on the important issues facing the City of Frederick today and the need to have experienced leaders in office. The city budget and finances will surely be one of the major areas which will receive her attention.

Meanwhile, Jason Judd will need to shake the image of being the surrogate for Ron Young. His Union work experience also continues to be a issue with some city voters. Interestingly, when he submitted and we published his announcement column (we announced in July 2008 we will do the same for all Democratic candidates), Mr. Judd never once mentioned his work for Unions in describing his work experience.

Perhaps this was an oversight, but Mr. Judd should not avoid discussing his work with the Services Employees International Union (SEIU). An opponent could easily perceive this as a weakness and try to exploit his past work experience. The positives of what unions have accomplished for working men and women should be acknowledged and not ignored.

Not helping Judd break the surrogate label, was a letter to the editor from Ron Young that appeared in the Frederick Gazette today. Here he says he is not just against Jennifer Dougherty but is supporting Jason Judd because.... Interestingly, Mr. Young brings up and questions the residency of current Republican Mayor Jeff Holtzinger. Funny, due to the fact Ron Young did not meet the residency requirements that were in place when he wanted to challenge Jennifer Dougherty in the 2005 primary. This led to the squabble among elected city officials, ultimately resulting in a one year residency requirement which Ron Young did meet. Along the way, as the residency squabble was playing out, Republican Jeff Holtzinger whose residency was just outside the City of Frederick's boundary, became eligible to file and did so.

Do not look to see the residency issue be an important factor with the voters in this election. In fact, many are tired of hearing about residency and instead want the candidates to focus on the issues.

As to the city aldermen race, Kelly Russell remains the only Democrat to file for office. A link to her website is located in the right hand margin of our site so go and check it out. James Racheff sent me an email recently saying he will not be running for aldermen. He has a new job and young children he loves spending time with and does not want to miss those precious moments. Mr. Racheff will stay involved with politics by helping out on the Judd for Mayor campaign. Look for Mr. Racheff to run for office in the future.

Although alderman David "Kip'" Koontz has considered running for Mayor, do not look for him to do so if Jennifer Dougherty announces soon. He will be competitive for reelection for alderman. Incumbent Donna Kuzemchak will most likely run for her fourth term and will also be a favorite for reelection. As mentioned in a previous column on our site, former two term alderman Bill Hall is expected to announce his run for alderman after switching his voter registration back to Democrat. He will be a formidable candidate.

As I indicated last week, Burke Miller, the President of the Frederick County Young Democrats is weighing entering the race. He will know more after he makes his decision on Law school over the next several weeks. Another possible candidate that has surfaced in conversations I have had with Democrats is Michael O'Connor who was recently the host of the local cable "Pressing Issues" political discussion show. He ran previous for state delegate and lost. Mr. O'Connor is knowledgeable of city issues and would be a competitive candidate. Another name that was mentioned to me by several individuals is Josh Bokee. I have not met him but was told he serves on the Whittier Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) and may be interested in running for alderman.

Stay tuned....


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