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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Clagett Stresses Vision and Management Experience to Lead City

George Wenschhof

Delegate Galen Clagett
Democratic Maryland state delegate Galen Clagett (district 3-a) wants to add mayor of The City of Frederick to a long list of accomplishments in his life.

He stressed to me during our ninety minute interview, he has the experience and vision to grow the city in a responsible manner and ensure a quality of life. 

Galen pointed to his 26 years as a business owner combined with his 20 years of being an elected official and 13 year as an educator. He feels this puts him in a unique position compared to any of the other candidates running for mayor.

Galen added “when it comes to preparing operating budgets, he has more experience than all of the other candidates combined.”

One of Clagett’s favorite quotes comes from President Harry Truman who once said “the worst decision is no decision”.  Galen said he has lived his life in business and in politics following this philosophy; by making decisions and moving forward.

When I asked him why he was running for mayor, Galen said during his 11+ years as a state legislator, he has supported a lot of programs in the city.  He intends to see these through fruition, adding he lives, works and is invested in the city.

He rattled off his efforts to support a downtown hotel/conference center, his efforts to secure state funding for the construction of Frederick High School, the Rt. 15/Monocacy Interchange, his support of development of the city airport, the Carroll Creek project and his desire to put the Hargett farm to a reasonable use for the city. 

Galen told me, “His work model is not to wait and see, but to weigh in and get the job done”.

Throughout my interview with the delegate, at a downtown restaurant, people would routinely stop and say hello. Frederick native Tena Meadows O'Rear shared with me "Frederick is in a position to benefit from the long term commitment Galen has shown for our city."

Clagett said his first action as mayor would be to assemble his management team to develop short and long term plans for the city capital and operating budgets.  This would include a 90 day, 6 month, one year and five year plan.

When it comes to public safety, Galen told me he had met with city police Chief Thomas Ledwell and looked forward to working with him.  Galen informed me current city funding authorized 141 police officers, but only 119 were filled.  To help rectify this, he would provide “bulge funding” to ensure police officers were at capacity.

In addition, Clagett would support a full time police academy to serve all western Maryland municipalities.  He believes the ability to train officers for others in western Maryland would be a showcase for the city.

Galen also wants to see a new police headquarters built.  He would first task the police department with providing a plan for the build out and acreage needed for the facility.  Again, Galen stressed he would follow with an action model by appointing a work group to “find site, find funds and get it done.”

Moving on to the subject of job creation, Clagett shared with me the city was short on options to encourage economic development and that he would move “to add tools in their toolbox.”  He elaborated further by saying a few he would like to provide options for include; Tax Incentive Financing (TIF), public/private partnerships, and a tax free zone or tax credit during the period of construction of a project.

In response to my inquiry about developing a strong and cooperative city/county/state relationship, Galen said “my hope is with a county executive and a proactive mayor, they can work hand in hand to grow in a responsible manner and in the process promote a jobs program that is attainable.” 

In concluding the interview, I mentioned the city underfunded employee pension and other post employment benefit plans (OPEB). Galen said he was concerned more has not been done.  As mayor, he would create a retirement board that would include members who are in the plans.  Clagett was particularly concerned about the yield on investment and felt an oversight board was needed.

The City of Frederick primary election will be held on September 10.  The Democrats running for mayor are Maryland state delegate Galen Clagett, city alderman Karen Young and Carol Hirsch.

The Republicans running for mayor are incumbent mayor Randy McClement, former mayor Jeff Holtzinger and city alderman Shelley Aloi.

Former mayor Jennifer Dougherty is running as an unaffiliated candidate and will not participate in the primary election, facing the winners of the Democratic and Republican primaries in the general election held November 5.

Stay tuned.
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