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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fiscal Accountability/Public Safety, Important to Cowell

George Wenschhof

Daniel Cowell
Dan Cowell, who finished fifth in The City of Frederick Republican alderman primary, told me his moving on to the general election was bittersweet to him.  His friend and fellow Republican alderman candidate; Hayden Duke had lost in the primary.

Dan said he and Hayden had helped found the Western Maryland Young Republican Group and had become close friends.

I remarked this was the first time I had seen two candidates using the same campaign literature.  When they both entered the race for alderman, Dan said they decided to campaign together as a team.  They figured they could reach more voters this way and developed handouts that promoted each candidate.

Interestingly, Dan said before he could file for office, he went through a rigorous ethics review to make sure there was no conflict with his employer JP Morgan Chase bank or the city’s ethics guidelines.  The solution to any potential conflicts is that he would need to recluse himself from any vote that may have an interest to his employer.

Dan informed me he wants fiscal accountability in the city and believes city taxes should be comparable to county taxes.  He did not feel the services provided by the city were that much more than the county.

In regard to the debt with the city Pension and other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) programs, Dan wants more contributions by employees on health care and retirement, with the city contributing less on pension.

When I asked him about the city’s current 20 year debt reduction plan, Dan said he would like this moved up to 5 years.  He added at this point the city can’t afford an aquatic center or solar powered energy projects and needs to be focused on paying down the debt, citing his concern of hearing about cities who have declared bankruptcy.

Dan also said public safety was important to him and he was concerned with the homeless, vagrants, and nuisance crimes along Carroll Creek that detract from families visiting and shopping there. 

He also noted the higher incidence of crime in the Key Parkway/Hillcrest area and would like to see a police substation set up in the area to create a presence and for the police to be closer to the problem.

Overall, he wants to see an increase in foot patrols. 

Increasing the voice of business owners is also important to Cowell.  He would like to see a business committee created with a liaison from the City board of alderman, so they could have a mechanism to discuss the problems they face.

Dan says he favors a downtown hotel/conference center, but does not want to use city tax dollars to build it.  However, he does support the city building a parking deck to support a downtown hotel because he felt the city needed new parking.

When it came to the low voter turnout in the city elections, Dan did not believe open primaries were necessarily a solution.  After, hearing different sides to the benefit of nonpartisan elections, he said he doesn’t have a position at this point.

Dan added he was onboard with the development of Phase II of Carroll Creek and the completion of Monocacy Boulevard, providing the financial resources were available.

Dan concluded with telling me he and his wife Amy, who is an occupational therapist, have a nine month old son Grant and he loves the city.  He reiterated the city needs to fix the debt.
Registered voters in the City of Frederick will determine their mayor and five member board of alderman on November 5.

Stay tuned.
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