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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Democratic Aldermen Contest Promises to be Close

George Wenschhof

Photo by George Cassutto, copyright 2013
On September 10, registered Democratic voters will choose 5 of their 8 candidates for alderman to move on to the general election. The embarrassingly low voter turnout resulting from the off year City of Frederick election will likely add to the closeness of the vote.

Also, contributing to the closeness will be numerous under votes that will take place on Election Day. Political insiders often refer to multiple candidate races when voters choose numerous candidates as “cattle call elections”.

In The City of Frederick election, it is important for candidates to be in the top three names in a voter’s mind, for often, after that, it’s a crap shoot as to who the voters will cast a ballot for, if any.

While, the Democratic candidates are working hard to win in a competitive election, there has been virtually no animosity openly shown toward each other.

With such a well qualified and experienced field of candidates, those who implement the best get out the vote effort will likely move on to the general election on November 5.

The only two city alderman incumbents to run for reelection are Democrats Kelly Russell and Michael O’Connor and although, they are not assured a first and second primary place finish, are solid bets to move onto the general election.

Both displayed admirable traits in their first term in office and deserve another term.  Overall their votes illustrated their willingness to listen to the many aspects of an issue presented to them and follow with an informed decision.

While, they recently voted for the rezoning of the Frederick Towne Mall property (a position I opposed) to facilitate the building of another Wal-Mart in the city, they would serve the city well over the next four years.

Alderman Kelly became a strong advocate for the development of shared use pedestrian/bicycle paths and her time as a police officer led her to be a strong voice for  public safety.

O’Connor displayed his willingness to make difficult votes when he was the lone alderman to oppose the annexation of the Keller and Caidlyn properties and he continues to encourage citizen engagement in the planning process.

Josh Bokee and John Daniels, both ran for alderman in 2009 and fell short of being elected.  They have demonstrated their commitment to the city by staying involved over the last four years.

Interestingly, published pictures often displayed the two sitting side by side in candidate forums, almost giving the image they were running together as a team.  In addition, Josh and John finished first and second in a straw poll conducted by the Frederick Young Democrats at a forum they hosted for the candidates.

Josh’s time spent serving on the city planning commission and John’s time spent working on the city ad hoc solid waste/recycling committee provided them with valuable experience.

Bokee and Daniels have exhaustingly gone door to door meeting voters, which along with their public service over the last four years have them well positioned heading into the primary election.

My time spent talking with Josh and John over the years leads me to say they would both bring level headed decision making to the board of alderman, if elected.  A demonstrated trait a voter should desire in an elected official.

Derek Shackelford, the only African American running for office, has also worked extremely hard in his first run for elected office.  Derek has advocated for economic development and the need for citizen involvement and engagement in the political process.

His work in the ministry and community should help him in his effort to become a minority voice on the board.

Donna Kuzemchak, in her bid to win reelection after serving three terms, has received the support of her fellow “mommy mongers”; former President of the Frederick board of county commissioners Jan Gardner and community activist Val Dale.  The three all ran together years ago with board of education issues being a main focus in their campaigns, resulting in the moniker. 

The outspoken Kuzemchak has not shied away from her vote in favor of the city purchase of the costly Hargett farm for a municipal park and it remains to be seen if this vote will hurt her attempt to re-enter the political arena.

Jack Lynch, who briefly ran for mayor four years ago, before withdrawing and endorsing Jennifer Dougherty, has focused on increasing citizen involvement and moving to a more regional approach to planning.

Jack focused his campaign efforts on providing testimony at city mayor and board meetings and writing numerous letters to the editor appearing in The Frederick News Post. 

Lynch testified against the rezoning of the Frederick Towne Mall to aid a Wal-Mart to be built and also testified against the 97 acre Caidlyn annexation, saying the annexation did not follow the plan and was premature.

The eighth Democratic alderman candidate; Kevin Greene has been missing in action since filing for the office.  No one has seen the candidate at any political functions or going door to door to meet voters. 

Myrna Whitworth, who is chair of the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee shared with me recently she did not know why he was not campaigning. Myrna informed me they interviewed him for a previous vacant central committee position, but he had not been chosen for the position.

It will be interesting to see how many votes Greene receives after apparently doing nothing more than filing for a seat on the board of alderman.

Knowing all of the Democratic candidates, except for Mr. Greene, voters should feel confident they will be well served by electing any of them.

Make sure on September 10, you vote!

Stay tuned.
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