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Friday, August 23, 2013

Kelly Russell Loves Frederick

 George Wenschhof

Alderman Kelly Russell
Clustered Spires High Wheel Bicycle Race
When I concluded my interview with Democratic alderman Kelly Russell, I asked her; why do you want four more years?  She answered quickly, with a wide smile, a common sight for those who know her, and said “I love the city and Frederick is growing and changing with amazing things happening.”  She added “it is important to do things right and lasting in the future.”

Kelly shared with me she felt public service was the highest honor and she received the highest satisfaction from it.  She wants to continue to be in a position to help the city move forward.

We discussed her accomplishments during her first term in office throughout most of the interview and Kelly spoke enthusiastically about her support of “Rails and Trails” in the city.

The design of the pedestrian and bicycle shared use pathway was aided with the help of a Council of Governments grant and when completed, will connect the east and west sides of the city.

She was proud of her efforts to have $1.5 million included in the city capital improvement budget this year to complete this project.

Working with an ad-hoc bicycle and pedestrian committee, (now a permanent advisory committee), Russell supported the creation of a loop that a bicyclist can use to visit 22 downtown Frederick historic sites that begins and ends at Tourism.

Alderman Russell also was pleased during her early months in office, the board moved to address resident concerns and safety issues by passing an oversized vehicle ordinance that regulated the size of vehicles parked on residential streets.

Kelly added she also brought forward legislation, during her first 11/2 years in office, that passed with a 5-0 vote, to include “sexual preference” as a protected class in the housing ordinance.

She spoke excitedly about her time on the city planning commission and her efforts to work with the historic preservation staff to establish a “demolition delay” on structures 50 years or older.  Kelly was especially pleased with her efforts to assist in successfully protecting the “hillside view” of the former Prospect Hall property by making the developers move an apartment building that would have obstructed the picturesque view.

Another law and resolution Russell noted she brought forward, addressed concerns of many residents by banning the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana (Bath Salts).

Before moving to a couple of questions left on my Facebook page for her, I asked her about how communication was going between the mayor and aldermen.  I reminded her she had complained to me about the lack of communication by Mayor Randy McClement (R) during her first year in office.

Kelly said she had promoted the establishment of monthly meetings between members of the board of alderman and the mayor, and as a result, communication had improved for her.  She added she had found a comfort zone to get things accomplished and she doesn’t let frustration with communication impede moving forward and getting things done for the city.

Devan Markel Naylor asked alderman Russell on my Facebook page if she would be willing to bring back bulk trash pick-up?  Kelly said she would like it to come back with a new name “free cycle round-up” where the city would partner with nonprofits with a recycle truck also available.  The “free cycle round-up” was piloted using the parking lot at Harry Grove Stadium on a Saturday.

Debra Santeufemio was concerned there was too much littering in the city and wondered if the city would consider a neighborhood clean up day.  Russell pointed out Downtown Frederick Partnership promotes “bring a broom” Saturdays and suggested Debra contact her Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) and perhaps they could coordinate a neighborhood clean up day.  

Kelly Russell is one of eight Democratic and seven Republican candidates running for the five member board of alderman.

The City of Frederick primary election is September 10.

Stay tuned.
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