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November 4, 2005

And then there were five

Roy Meachum

The final vote count Thursday morning brought no joy to state Republicans who reportedly invested heavily in this year's Frederick City elections. Never mind what they say.

When judges finished with the absentee ballots, GOP candidate Jeff Holtzinger's received a slight bump (33) upward; for defeated Democratic veteran Ron Young the tally only confirmed his decision. Tuesday night he announced his intention of devoting his future to painting and writing, remanding politics to an avocation, something along the lines of fly-fishing.

On the other hand, the morning after the results were in I began to hear, from various quarters, hopeful wishes that Mayor-elect Holtzinger might bring his opponent along for the ride, capitalizing on Mr. Young's abundant experience and further uniting the city for the bumpy road ahead.

This local Grand Coalition could go a long way in ensuring the civility both gentlemen displayed; theirs was hardly a head- to-head confrontation, more like "if you please" and "after you." Their campaign was definitely one for the books.

Inviting the losing candidate into his administration would certainly reflect voters' desires, as demonstrated by their aldermanic selections.

While the GOP can claim the top chair, Democrats dominate the Board of Aldermen. The only genuine, bonafide Republican elected was Paul Smith who seemed to thrive on a local columnist's attempts to smear him as bigoted towards gays.

As president pro tem, with the largest vote total in her pocket, returning Alderman Marcia Hall will be dealing with fellow Democrats David "Kip" Koontz and Donna Ramsburg, who barely managed to escape yielding the fourth slot to Mr. Smith. Two votes kept her from last place among the winners.

The other newly elected alderman, coming in third, is an old and admired friend. Alan Imhoff presided for years over the Armory election tables; he has been both a student and a constant participant in every phase of government open to a citizen.

On Tuesday, the good people of Frederick finally gave Mr. Imhoff the brass ring; he tried more than once to win an election as a Democrat. Maybe switching his registration to the GOP did the trick.

In the event, when the state party wants to shout about a Republican takeover of City Hall, it would be on shaky grounds to include Mr. Imhoff in. His demonstrated public service puts the gentleman above partisan politics.

What made this year's elections really different, however, was the presence of a third party ticket on the ballot. Green Joanne Ivancic came in eleventh (2,076).

But Ms. Ivancic's finishing position mattered less than the start of an option for those dissatisfied with the Republican and Democratic organizations that have ruled America since the mid-19th century.

Since so-called independents' ranks are swelling toward 6,000 in the city alone, we can hope they will find a home in the new party, anything's better than sitting out the vital, preliminary primaries. That's when the choices are really made.

Among the other also-rans, as I wrote in this space last Friday, James Joyce and Randy McClement remained unknown to me; I touched the same space with both candidates. We smile and exchanged pleasantries. Nothing more. Under the circumstances I scarcely believe either was a serious candidate.

The Rev. Samie Conyers certainly was; he wound up less than 100 votes outside the golden circle Thursday morning; surely he will be back the next time around.

Old political soldier Tom Slater will probably leave electioneering to others; he was knee deep into his beloved Democratic Party long before I blew up the pike. His candidacy may have suffered from over familiarity. I can't say. But it was good to see him take a shot, one more time.

Frederick neophyte Ken Berlin singularly impressed; I found him receptive, intelligent and thoughtful. I trusted the man's integrity, but then during the campaign season I got o know him. Most folks did not. I hope he doesn't fade away.

My sixth Frederick city election strikes me as the most satisfying, by far. Ron Young was a sentimental favorite to recapture the glory he created earlier.

But Jeff Holtzinger has the significant credentials, the work experience and the personality to restore City Hall to the friendly place it used to be. I hope so.

Over the past four years Pushkin and I have walked and waded through more troughs of anger than I've known all the years since I wandered into The Washington Post looking for a part time job and wound up a journalist, not a lawyer.

Thanks, Jeff and Ron, and all the other brave men and women willing to put their reputations and lives on the line to keep democracy in this republic alive and kicking. One more time.

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