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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Trout Working Hard to Earn Your Vote

Ryan Trout
George Wenschhof
I sat down recently and interviewed Democratic candidate Ryan Trout who is running for Maryland state delegate in district 3-a. I began by asking Ryan, how do you intend to win against the two incumbent Democratic delegates, Carol Krimm and Karen Lewis Young? (Voters elect two delegates in District 3-a)
He responding by saying “I plan to out hustle and out work the competition”. Ryan added “I have been knocking on doors, talking to people and learning from them. I hope they see my energy and realize I am willing to work hard for them”.
I met Ryan Trout when he ran for Maryland state delegate in district 4-a, in 2010.  He would lose that race in a heavily Republican voter registered district, but impressed many in that campaign.
Four years later, I would interview him after his move to The City of Frederick led to speculation he would run for delegate in district 3-a, a heavy Democratic voter registered district.
Ryan informed me during that interview “His job as the Family Self Sufficiency coordinator with Public Housing in Frederick falls under the Hatch Act which prohibits him from running for delegate. Ryan went on to tell me he also “loves his job and his sincere passion is to make the lives of low and moderate income families better”. He added “one reason why I love my current position so much is I am able to have a direct impact and work with wonderful people every day”.”
First time Democratic delegate candidates Karen Lewis Young and Carol Krimm would win that 2014 election.
Today, the former chair of the Frederick County Affordable Housing Council is working as the legislative liaison and public information officer for Baltimore city’s Department of General Services.
In talking with Ryan, it is obvious he is still dedicated to helping working families with the issues they face. Trout told me “I want to represent values not being represented in Annapolis”.  He was concerned funding for education was down and that he wants to focus on policies that will pay dividends to residents in the future.
He believes strongly that education is the lynch pin to everything else and believes in a “cradle to career” approach that includes universal Pre-K to career and technology programs.  Trout supports the state funding two additional years of education and would like to see this expanded to four years.
I followed up with Trout on his position on nonpartisan redistricting and the ban of the sale of assault weapons as well as high capacity ammunition clips.
Trout responded with “Yes, I support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census. It is imperative to our democracy that we ensure that all Marylanders are being properly represented in Washington and Annapolis. We should also lead by example and show states like Pennsylvania and Virginia how to go from a partisan model to a non-partisan one”.
He added “I support the ban on assault-style weapons, the sale of high capacity ammo clips, and the closing of background check loopholes. Additionally, I have been named a candidate of distinction by Moms Demand Action regarding sensible gun legislation".
I would also ask Trout, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision, would you support the state allowing sports gambling.   He stated “I am reluctant to support additional gambling due to the impact it has on individuals and their families. I would prefer to learn more about any proposals, locations, etc., before taking a formal stance on the issue”.
I also asked if he supported the $16 million is state funding for the downtown hotel/conference center in The City of Frederick.  Ryan said “I will support it, with conditions”.  He felt there were benefits to having a conference center, but bristled with providing $16 million in state funds that allow an employer to pay employees minimum wage.  He felt the employer should have to pay a living wage and benefits.  Otherwise, Ryan said taxpayers end up subsidizing their employees.
Ryan Trout also wanted me to know his concern with the opioid epidemic and that he was closely following efforts to combat this problem nationwide. One encouraging effort is called Project - Lazarus that began in North Carolina and is being considered in Pennsylvania.  He would like the state of Maryland to examine implementing a similar program.
You can find out more about Ryan Trout on his campaign website:

Editor’s Note:  The Maryland primary election will be held on June 26, 2018 and the general election will take place on November 6, 2018.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ken Kerr Wants to Serve Community in Annapolis

Ken Kerr
George Wenschhof
Although a familiar cliché in politics, Democratic candidate Ken Kerr was sincere when he told me his running for Maryland state delegate in district 3-b was motivated by his desire to serve and make the community a better place.  He added “I look at it as almost a duty to serve”.
Two years ago Dr. Kerr, who teaches at Frederick Community College, won a nonpartisan Frederick county-wide election to the school board. He informed me he would resign from that position if he won the state delegate race.  Otherwise, he would continue to serve on the school board for the remainder of the four year term.
Ken told me four years ago redistricting resulted in making voter registration between Republicans and Democrats in district 3-b almost even, with approximately 4,000 undeclared or independent voters who will likely have an important impact on the outcome.
In spite of the effort to turn the district blue, Republican William “Bill” Folden would win four years ago, beating Democratic candidate Stephen Slater.  In this election, neither Folden nor Kerr have a primary opponent so they will cruise to the general election held on November 6, 2018.
I asked Ken if he had been “recruited” to run for the seat by the state Democratic Party and he informed me that he had been contacted by a staff member in speaker Michael E. Busch’s (D) office last year.  He added it took about six months to make his decision.  Obviously, Democrats would like to capture this seat and they indicated they would offer support to Dr. Kerr’s campaign.
I would follow up with Ken and ask, “Do you support a nonpartisan redistricting manner to be used by the state of Maryland”?  He responded with “Yes, I support a national or regional approach to nonpartisan redistricting”.
Dr. Kerr’s education experience surely led to him sharing with me his desire to create apprenticeship programs with businesses for high school students, including dual enrollments with community colleges.
He supports the recently approved state funded two years of additional education and would like to expand this to a full four years.  Ken would also like to expand the career technology center, by adding another facility in southern Frederick County.
He told me “I strongly support funding for universal Pre-K for 4 year olds - it is understood the early years are very important in a child’s development”.
Kerr also wants to establish an earned income tax credit at the state level that mirrors the federal earned income tax credit that will help working families.
In light of the recent Supreme Court decision to allow states to determine whether to allow sports betting, I asked him his position on this issue.  Dr. Kerr told me “I would support legalizing sports betting and want money to go to education”.  He added “the state is not capturing any money from the underground betting that happens now”.  In addition, Ken felt fraternal organizations should be allowed slot machines.
In regards to medical marijuana, Ken said he supported this along with full decriminalization.  He told me “the state should also keep an eye on states with legalized recreation marijuana to see how effective these policies are before Maryland moves to legalize”.
I asked him if he supported the $16 million in state funding for the proposed downtown Frederick hotel and conference center and Dr. Kerr said “Yes, a conference center is needed downtown and the hotel will provide a place for tourists to stay after shopping and eating”.
In an email following my interview, I asked Ken, “Do you support the state ban of the sale of assault style weapons and high capacity ammunition clips”?
He responded with “I am not in favor of confiscating anyone's guns. What I propose is--if you have an AR15 or similar, you can keep it. It's yours. But it's ONLY yours. You can't sell it, you can't transfer it. Enjoy it while you live, because it dies with you. Beyond that, we ban future sales and limit clip sizes. Civilians do not need weapons of war.”
The ninety minute interview passed quickly.  You can visit his campaign website at and on Facebook:
Editor’s Note:  The Maryland primary election will be held on June 26, 2018 and the general election will take place on November 6, 2018.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Susan Reeder Jessee, a Refreshing Choice

Susan Reeder Jessee
George Wenschhof
In an era of attack dog style politics that has resulted in polarizing friends and communities, it was refreshing to spend ninety minutes interviewing Susan Reeder Jessee.  She is a Democratic candidate for one of the two at-large seats on the seven member Frederick County council.  Not once did she criticize another candidate or their position on an issue. 
The daughter of former county commissioner Bruce Reeder (D) and Democratic state central committee member Odette "Dottie" Reeder, Susan told me “I am running because I feel this is what I was meant to do. This is an opportunity to give back and I want to continue Mom and Dad’s work”.
Growing up in Frederick County and receiving her MBA from Hood College, she has seen firsthand the challenges brought about by growth.  Perhaps being a daughter, wife and mother in addition to being “around” politics throughout her life helped her in how she approaches issues.  Susan added “I have lived in four of the five districts so I know the county well.
When I asked about the issues most important to her, Susan said “I am not a single issue candidate”.  However, she told me economic development was important for the residents of Frederick County.  She believes we need to go outside of the county to target businesses for recruitment to bring jobs here.
Her background includes years spent as a Business Development Specialist for The City of Frederick and a member of the founding board of the first business incubator, The Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc. (FITCI).  Susan also served on the FITCI Client Selection committee.  She presently works as a project manager with IDT-Biologika.
Nearly 50% of the county budget goes toward education and Susan is proud to have received the endorsement of the Frederick County Teacher’s Association.  She remembers her tenth grade Biology teacher who inspired her to enter this field as a professional and wants Frederick County schools to be the best in the state.
Being aware of the needs of seniors is another area Susan is passionate about.  She spoke about the county Meals on Wheels program and tax initiatives to help seniors.
Affordable Housing is also important to Susan who feels the county has fallen way behind in providing affordable housing for the youth and seniors who live in the county.
When it comes to overall growth, Ms. Reeder Jessee wants to work and brainstorm with all community stakeholders to develop policies to get Frederick County in front of needed infrastructure and services.
Keeping neighborhoods safe and making sure first responders had what they needed was also important to Susan.
In regard to waste disposal, she wants to look at providing incentives to encourage recycling and composting, saying “you can’t force people to do this”.
Overall, Susan Reeder Jessee says “Let’s work together to move Frederick County forward”.
You can read more about Susan Reeder Jessee on her campaign website:
Editor’s Note: The primary will be held on June 26, 2018. In the Frederick County council race, voters will determine the two at-large candidates and the candidate for each of the five districts from the Democratic and Republican parties who will go on to appear on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot.