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February 17, 2009

Funny Frederick Politics

Roy Meachum

This city holds elections this autumn. At that realization, many registered voters went back to sleep. They are not kept awake by the various and sundry rumors and gossips floating around. Most simply will not show up at polling places.


Some pundits make it odds-on certain that president pro-tem of the aldermen, Marcia Hall, will toss a hat, which I've never seen her wear, into the mayoral race. Others argue Ms. Hall is so uncertain she might decline and stick around to serve on the city board another four years. In which case Jennifer Dougherty has been quoted she will offer herself for the top of the Democratic slate. I can't imagine circumstances that might keep her out; she became the first modern first-term incumbent mayor to be turned out by the electorate, in 2005.


From the same party Jack Lynch registered his name officially as a candidate. Jason Judd makes all the proper moves and talks strong; he looks to use a March rally to declare he's in the autumn race. And there are others. Choosing a Democratic nominee may not boil down to an insiders' concoction behind a closed door. It never was. Ron Young came unexpectedly out of retirement four years ago and dumped Ms. Dougherty in the primary.


How could anyone figure that out in advance? Until he did all the legal necessities, Mr. Young seemed very content letting other people have their romp in the political yard where he was once king. It seems speculation about Marcia Hall; and Jennifer Dougherty really helps neither, if either seriously considers the possibility. And they are.


We've heard talk and read items about several Republican wannabes, especially Randy McClement, who announced last week. Whatever fire is in the GOP's belly, none of that makes sense unless Mayor Jeff Holtzinger publicly announces he's out. He said to me he does not like the prospect of walking away from unfinished city business. And as a duly certified engineer and a member of the legal bar, he left me no cause to think he meant solely building projects, including roads.


In answer to a direct question, the mayor answered: He didn't know. And I believe him. He has until the eve of the primaries to withdraw even if he files. That would suggest anybody interested should have a go, but not necessarily expect the party to rush right up and plant a kiss on either cheek.


We can remember how Jim Grimes' vacillation immeasurably helped Ms. Dougherty in the primary and smashed chances for then-alderman Meta Nash; both ladies are Democrats. The street story portrayed Ms. Nash as little more than a stalking horse for Mayor Grimes – which I knew to be blatantly untrue. In any event, his very obvious distaste for politics' hurly-burly contributed to his loss. The dedicated effort of Frederick's newspaper’s new owner to boost him out was not a minor factor.


Mr. Holtzinger's athletic record on the city's playing fields draws him as a competitor, frequently zealous. In conversations, I find him not at all averse to dedicating four more years to his hometown; his family lives a short distance over the county line. Only the incredible shortsightedness of Ms. Dougherty made him eligible in the contest he won. I have observed his wife doesn't mind at all her status as the mayor's spouse. Still, as he said, he might watch the fall's elections as a non-player. Nobody-including Jeff Holtzinger evidently-knows what he will do.


As baseball hits the spring gate, eventually aimed at the World Series that sits smack dab in the middle of Frederick's elections, political talk is very cheap. We cannot take any observer's words as the ultimate truth.


Including mine.


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