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Sunday, April 14, 2013

City of Frederick Election for Mayor Underway

George Wenschhof

The September 10 primary is five months away and candidates are beginning to make official their intentions.

The race for mayor, which is the focus of the city election, will be thrown a new curve with the effort by one term former mayor Jennifer Dougherty to run as an Independent.

After running six campaigns as a Democrat, losing five times and only winning once out of four tries to become mayor of Frederick, Dougherty is now gathering signatures to run as an Independent.

Finding herself unable to get past the Democratic primary, running as an Independent, if the signatures are validated by the end of April, would allow Dougherty to by-pass the primary and go straight to the general election.

With fewer than 25 per cent of the registered voters expected to take part in the general election, a three way race could be very close.  Or, as some observers say, Dougherty running as an Independent will ensure another Republican will win the mayor's race, and this with a majority of registered voters in the city being Democrats.

So far, two Democrats have filed to run for mayor and the Democratic primary for mayor promises to be a tough battle with alderwoman Karen Young facing state delegate Galen Clagett.

Young, who spent most of her term as alderwoman criticizing Republican mayor Randy McClement, was expected to run for mayor.  It was a year ago she told me of her plans and when she intended to make it official.

Interestingly, it was also a year ago I met with delegate Galen Clagett to discuss his proposed hotel/motel tax and his desire to raise funds for a downtown hotel/conference center.  During that meeting, I informed Galen, I did not believe Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot would run for Governor, which would put to end the speculation Galen for run for Comptroller. 

I suggested he consider a run for county executive, if the charter passed (which it did), or a run for mayor, as he was a strong administrator, a requirement for both positions.  At that time, Clagett indicated he was intent on finishing his term as delegate and was still exploring a race for Comptroller.

A year later, Franchot is not running for Governor and Clagett is running for mayor of The City of Frederick.

The Democratic primary will be intense, as Galen who once opposed the "good old boy" network, but is now one, has a strong base of support.  Karen has proven she will work hard in a campaign, her top vote in the 2009 election earning her the mayor pro tem designation.

With the strength of Clagett and Young, the Democratic primary is unlikely to see another candidate emerge and it is their strength that most likely pushed Dougherty to run as an Independent.

First term mayor Randy McClement, a nice guy, is so far running unopposed in the Republican primary.  There has been speculation alderwoman Shelley Aloi, who has often opposed McClement, would run for mayor.  Look for Aloi to instead run for reelection as alderwoman.

Local restaurant owner Gary Brooks was rumored to run against McClement, but opted instead to continue his effort to promote a change to nonpartisan elections in The City of Frederick. While, another Republican has not filed to run for mayor, look to see McClement face a challenger in the primary election.

I labeled McClement as a status quo mayor some time ago, as he displayed a lack of vision for the future of the city during his first term and would seemingly go from addressing issue to issue, as they would present themselves to him.

Under the charter, the mayor is the elected city manager and the residents of the city deserve a mayor who will bring the city together as one community with a vision for the future that moves the city forward.

The race for mayor promises to be exciting to watch, so stay tuned.


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