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April 13, 2005

A Time to Say Goodbye

John W. Ashbury

If all things were equal, Frederick City Alderman David Lenhart should remain in office until his term ends in January, as he has stated that he does not plan to seek further elective office at this time, and that includes running for the House of Delegates next year.

But, as Mr. Lenhart knows, all things are not equal in his life. He recently told a colleague here on The Tentacle that there are four things most prominent in his life - family, faith, fishing and friends.

He left out another critical issue that he must address in making any and all decisions for the rest of his life - and that is his health.

Three years ago this month he suffered a heart attack while on a business trip to California. A Guardian Angel truly was with him that day. For when the attack struck he was on the grounds of a hospital, quite close to the emergency room entrance. And among those on the sidewalk just behind him was a cardiologist.

Last week while in a doctor's office two blocks from Frederick Memorial Hospital, Alderman Lenhart experienced another heart episode. He was taken fairly quickly to Washington Hospital Center where he underwent a procedure to determine the cause.

For those who know and love Dave Lenhart, it was welcome news that the cause wasn't imminently dangerous and something that was quickly resolved. He returned home the next day.

Dave loves politics and political gamesmanship, but as one new to the game he frequently takes issues to heart and reacts accordingly.

There are those around him who have no regard for him or his health. They make "mountains out of mole hills," and do, what appears to this observer, anything they can to distract and disturb him.

And then these people claim Dave is causing "problems" because he doesn't agree with their positions.

Frederick City's government is in a shambles at present. Morale in City Hall is at its lowest ebb in 20 years. Arrogance and ruthlessness run rampant. And it is all because some of our elected officials don't understand that politics is the art of compromise.

Certainly there are hard and fast positions that our representatives take from very personal convictions. But there comes a time when "my way or the highway" just doesn't work. That is where the compromise part of politics comes in.

Running a government as large as Frederick City's is a difficult and time consuming job. One person can't do it all. And whoever is in charge has to join in the give and take from time to time to get the job done in the best interest of ALL the citizens of our community.

Dave Lenhart is really concerned about Frederick. He loves it. He didn't run for alderman to feather his own cap. He did it out of a deeply held conviction that he had something positive to offer.

And he wanted to give back to the community that he has called home for almost two decades now.

Whatever decision Dave makes will get the support of his friends and loved ones. Among his concerns, of course, is what happens in his city government if he resigns.

Let's tell Dave right up front what is most important: that is his health and the prospects of remaining with your young family long enough to seem them grown and having a family of their own.

People are talking about just who would be selected to replace Dave should he resign as a member of The Board of Aldermen. That's good and healthy for others, but not for Dave.

The contentious relationship between the mayor and Dave could not possibly get any worse, though some speculate that the mayor will do anything she can to upset his applecart. But this should not be a deciding factor for Dave in making his decision.

And no matter how critical his role is in this city administration, it really has no meaning if his health is further damaged.

Trying to guess who would be put on the board is just speculation. The mayor may think that the Republican she selects - and gets approved by the remaining aldermen - will do her bidding.

But she must be cautious. Remember how conservative Earl Warren was as the governor of California in the 1950s, and just how liberal he became after President Eisenhower appointed him Chief Justice.

Of course, there is that old saying: "Be careful what you wish for."

Also to be considered is the fact that with the election looming in just a few months time, all city business will grind to a slow crawl as those in office realize that what they do can upset this or that segment of the population which votes.

So this is the time for Dave Lenhart to step down. No one will criticize him for doing so knowing his health problems and his commitment to his family and friends.

As one who counts himself among Dave's friends, I could care less what happens to the City of Frederick and its citizens if the good that arises from Dave remaining on the board costs him his life.

His children, his wife and his siblings need him. And his friends need him far more than does the City of Frederick.

Let's thank Dave Lenhart for his contributions and throw a lavish party for him as he retires from elected office. It's the least we can do for someone who truly has given his life's blood to his community

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