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Friday, September 6, 2013

McClement Facing Strong Challenge in Republican Primary

George Wenschhof

Randy McClement
Shelley Aloi
Randy McClement, who is running for reelection for mayor of The City of Frederick, has drawn a record number of challengers for the seat.  A total of seven candidates are running for mayor; 3 Republicans, 3 Democrats and 1 Unaffiliated.

Getting past the primary election held on September 10 will not be easy for the first term mayor, who has the reputation of being a nice guy.  Randy will first have to get past former mayor Jeff Holtzinger and alderman Shelley Aloi in the Republican primary before he would face the winner in the Democratic primary and unaffiliated former mayor Jennifer Dougherty.

One of the main reasons cited for the multitude of candidates opposing Randy is that, putting aside he is a nice guy, the rap on Randy is he is a weak leader with no vision for the city.
Jeff Holtzinger

Holtzinger put it more bluntly in a recent interview when he told me the mayor is letting the alderman run the city and that is not the way the city charter is set up.  Often silent on issues that come before the mayor and board over the last four years, Randy rarely offered his opinion on matters presented at public meeting or workshops.

In my interview with McClement, he touted his fiscal stewardship during a time of economic uncertainty as the main thing he was proud of during his first term in office.

However, as a result of a lack of vision and a seemingly unwillingness to provide direction, Randy has been stuck with the moniker of being a “caretaker mayor”.  That is, during his watch, nothing great happened and nothing really bad happened.

Former one term mayor Jeff Holtzinger can’t say the same, as it was during his administration two costly decisions were made.  One, was the early retirement buy-out program and the other was the decision to purchase the Hargett farm for a park.

Both decisions are still costing the city money.  Holtzinger sticks by the Hargett farm purchase, telling me the cost to develop the farm will be considerably less per acre than the city is paying to develop Carroll Creek.

Holtzinger, who is also an engineer by trade, wants to get back to building infrastructure for the city to provide relief from the congestion city residents currently face.

Alderman Shelley Aloi is also frustrated with the lack of leadership exhibited by Randy and told me when she announced her run for mayor “the city can’t take four more years of him”.

She is angry the city hasn’t done more to reduce the underfunded liability of the pension and other post employment benefits programs.  She was especially incensed over the negotiated contract the mayor did with the city police union, saying it will cost the city millions.

The talk around town has Randy surviving the primary election, resulting from Holtzinger drawing votes away from Aloi.

But, don’t discount Aloi, who was the only Republican elected to the board of alderman in the 2009 election. In that election, as well as this one, she has displayed a strong closing campaign effort as voting day nears.

The real fireworks will begin following the primary when city voters will have a choice between the Democratic, Republican and Unaffiliated candidate for mayor. 

Stay tuned.
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