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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

O'Connor Brings Moderation to Board of Aldermen

George Wenschhof

Perhaps, it is his experience as a former host of a local weekly political discussion show and news broadcaster, which has helped shape Michael O'Connor as he considers the issues that come before him.

In a recent sit down conversation, I found him to be very reasonable and willing to look at various sides of an issue.

An opinion shared by the other aldermen I have interviewed recently. A common statement I heard from other board members was Michael was very good at making sure everyone expressed their thoughts when the board debated an issue. While, the current board does not always agree, discussion on issues have been amiable, helped in part, by Michael's demeanor.

The lone male and one of four Democrats elected to the all new five member board of aldermen, he never once mentioned the make of of the board during our conversation.

Balancing the budget continues to be the main emphasis for elected officials across the country in all levels of government and The City of Frederick is no exception.

After facing budget cuts in their first year in office, a projected 9.9 million deficit needs to be addressed when Republican Mayor Randy McClement unveils his budget.

O'Connor is ready to examine thoroughly the proposed budget and add his input. Workshops and public meetings will be scheduled over the next couple of months as the budget must be approved prior to July 1.

The purchase of land (Hargett farm) for a city park under the previous city administration has added to the financial burden. The bonded funding mechanism continues to strap the city coffers and also limits uses of the property.

With money scarce to build out the park, suggestions are plentiful as to what else could be done with the property. O'Connor believes a cost analysis on allowable uses would be helpful in this regard - I agree.

Moving on past a discussion of the budget, Aldermen O'Connor is excited about the staff and committee work underway in a number of areas, including, but not limited to sustainability, a shared use pathway, and area plans for the west end and east side of Frederick.

The failure of the city to reach agreement on the renewal of the stadium lease with the Baltimore Oriole single-a minor league team "The Keys" is the issue that he has received the most feedback from residents; many of them who have said they do not want to lose the Keys baseball team.

The mayor recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the lease of the stadium and O'Connor is looking forward to reviewing the proposals. While, he is not anxious to lose the Keys baseball team, he would not commit to a position on the issue until he has the opportunity to review the proposals submitted to the city.

The alderman's approach to this contentious issue is another example of how O'Connor brings moderation to the board of aldermen.

When I asked him if he ever thought about running for mayor, he answered with "I am happy being an alderman, for now".

Keep an eye on Michael O'Connor; a thoughtful man, who takes his elected position seriously.


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