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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Democrats Win Super Majority on Board of Alderman

George Wenschhof

Yesterday, less than one out of four registered voters went to the polls in the City of Frederick, Maryland election with Republican Randy McClement becoming the mayor-elect. While the mayor has always been the prize in the city election, four of the five aldermen-elect are Democrats ensuring a strong check and balance between the executive and legislative body. you can read the unofficial results here and the unofficial results by precinct here.

The election was extremely quiet and the low voter turnout further illustrates the need to make changes to the existing election process in the City of Frederick. I have long been a proponent of moving the election date to coincide to the presidential election cycle and you can read many of the columns I have written on the subject by clicking on the links provided in the right hand margin of my home page.

Anne Leffler; President of the City Board of Supervisors of Elections also wants to explore the idea of a mail-in election which promises to increase voter turnout. Let's hope the new mayor and board appoints a committee immediately to study and given a charge to recommend changes to the existing city election process to increase voter turnout.

Ms. Leffler did an outstanding job at city hall last night as she relayed the results to the folks who had gathered at city hall. All indications are the election went smoothly as the election judges at the polls continue to exhibit their professionalism. Final unofficial election results were provided to attendees at city hall "in print" by 9:45 PM.

Some pundits will say the Democratic party loses in the governor races in Virginia and New Jersey and the Democratic lose by Mr. Judd in the City of Frederick mayoral race was due to a trend of dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama. One only needs to look at the individual candidates to see that is a hopeful stretch by Republican leaders who are trying to rally a fractured party for the 2010 mid term elections.

Jason Judd was unable to close the deal as he did not capture all the Democratic support nor does it appear he won many Republican cross over votes or "Others" in yesterday's election. This is similar to what happened four years ago when Democrat Ron Young lost to political newcomer Republican Jeff Holtzinger. The continued low voter turnout also further skewers election results.

The remaining three Incumbents; Donna Kuzemchak (D), Paul Smith (R) and Alan Imhoff (R) were all shown the exit by this small number of voters who clearly wanted new faces in city hall.

The incoming board of alderman promises to be an extremely strong board surely capable of questioning and standing up to any ill fated proposal presented by the mayor. It appears unlikely a fiasco such as the approval of the city employee early retirement "buy-out" approved under the Holtzinger administration will happen under the watch of the incoming board.

Karen Young (D) is talented and a hard worker and is set to become mayor pro-tem on the board. Michael O'Connor (D) also worked hard and earned his second place finish by showing his compassion for the voters and his dedication to the position. Carol Krimm (D) finally broke the curse of the local Democratic Central Committee by becoming the first member to be elected to public office in twelve years. Ms. Krimm is very knowledgeable of the inner workings of government and will be a big plus for the board. Kelly Russell (D) also worked hard across party lines to win election to the board. The only change likely to occur after the absentee ballots are counted on Thursday is the order of finish between Ms. Krimm and Kelly Russell as only 14 votes separate them between fourth and fifth place. Shelley Aloi (R) did extremely well as a new comer to politics, finishing a strong third. She also worked very hard and enjoyed support across party lines.

The write-in campaign championed by Neal Wirth fizzled as ex-mayor Jennifer Dougherty only received 81 votes and these votes would not have altered the outcome of the election.

An interesting aside to the city election was the lack of impact Frederick County Commissioner Kai Hagen (D) had on the final results. Mr. Hagen had actively campaigned for Jason Judd and was holding signs for him at the polls on Election Day. This is the third major local issue he has been on the losing side over the past year. The first two were his opposition to the Waste-to-Energy Incinerator and his support of the city petition to force a referendum of the recent annexations into the city. Whether his support of Judd is strike three for Mr. Hagen remains to be seen as the county election next year is rapidly approaching.


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