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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Republican County Executive Highlights Frederick County Races to Watch

George Wenschhof

The Republican primary to nominate their county executive candidate is likely to be very close.  The winner will face unopposed Democratic incumbent county executive Jan Gardner and Independent Earl Robbins in the General Election.

Republican voters will choose between three candidates.  

Frederick County council member Kirby Delauter makes no secret of his disdain toward Gardner. Delauter is a holdover from the previous and last board of county commissioners, led by board president Blaine Young who I labeled "Blaine and Company" in a 2013 column.  Their mantra of pro business, pro development and privatizing government services ushered in Democratic county executive Jan Gardner who defeated Blaine Young four years ago in the first election for county executive in Frederick County under charter government. 

Delauter and other candidates are still primarily battling over growth issues that have dominated Frederick County politics over the last few decades.

Delauter's primary opponents, Regina Williams and Maryland state delegate Kathy Afzali have taken a more moderate stance toward development throughout their campaigns.

Ms. Williams was a county budget officer who was in a relationship with former board president Blaine Young and was fired from her county position by Jan Gardner following her election victory.  Williams would reach a financial settlement with the county after filing a wrongful termination suit.

Regina is the daughter of Debbie Williams who is well known in the county and who founded The Patty Pallotos Fund, Inc., a nonprofit that provides aide to individuals suffering from cancer.

Maryland state district 4 delegate Kathy Afzali has the largest war chest of the three and would likely be the strongest Republican contender versus Gardner and Robbins in the General Election.  Afzali is a hard campaigner first elected after upsetting popular Republican incumbent Paul Stull in the 2010 primary election.

With each receiving significant support, look to see the winner receive less than 50% of the vote.  It would not surprise me if Afzali emerges as the winner in this contest.


The Democratic primary to select two at-large (countywide) county council candidates will also be one to watch. This race illustrates the division among moderate and progressive Frederick County Democrats.

Former one term county commissioner Kai Hagen is trying to make a comeback after he and the Democratic candidates he ran with were soundly defeated by Republican Blaine Young and Company in the 2010 election.

A lightening rod for voters who support and oppose him, this time Kai is making no secret of his wish to be elected along with fellow Democrat Mark Long.  Long ran for county council in the 5th district and lost to Republican Kirby Delauter in the previous election.  Sadly, Long and his positions on issues is drowned out by the Hagen rhetoric.

Galen Clagett is also trying to make a comeback after retiring as a state delegate following a primary election loss for mayor to Karen Young in The City of Frederick 2013 primary election.  Clagett served as county commissioner for 8 years, 4 as board president and 12 years as a Maryland state delegate. 

There is no love lost between Clagett and Hagen with Hagen highlighting Clagett's support for Delauter and his endorsement of Republican Randy McClement following his primary mayoral loss to Karen Young in the 2013 city election.

Susan Reeder Jessee who, in her first entry into politics, barely missed being elected in the 2014 General Election. She came in a close third and there are indications she will receive strong support again. She may emerge as the leader in this primary election.

Kavonte Duckett wants to be the first African American elected to the county council and is a refreshing voice.  He has exhibited a strong work ethic and sincere desire to represent the voters of Frederick County.

Who will win the second slot along with Susan Reeder Jessee is hard to call.  Clagett and Hagen both enjoy strong support across the county. However, voters may decide they want to move forward and away from the past by choosing a new voice in either Duckett or Long.


In the Republican at-large primary, Philip Dacey, a former City of Frederick alderman, is the front runner.  Who will come in second and capture the other at-large seat will likely be a close contest between Justin Kiska who is running again after losing in 2014 and Jason Miller. Danny Farrar is the other Republican candidate in this contest.


The Republican primary race in county council district 2 between incumbent Tony Chmelik and challenger Steve McKay is another to watch closely.  Their positions on growth once again being the focus.  McKay is a supporter of Democratic county executive Jan Gardner so it will be interesting should McKay win the Republican primary to see if Gardner will support him over Democratic candidate Lisa Jarosinki who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.


Look to see Republican Kevin Grubb win the county council district 1 race against Dylan Diggs.  The winner will face incumbent and unopposed Democrat Jerry Donald in the General Election.


Your vote matters - If you have not already cast your ballot during Early Voting, make sure you go to the polls on Tuesday June 26, 2018.


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