See How They Run – Part 2
The numbers are intimidating: 20 candidates are contesting for five seats on the city's Board of Aldermen. That turns out eleven Republicans and nine Democrats. Most names ring no bells. With exactly nine weeks before voters march into the booths, many who filed can count on only their families and friends stepping up for them.
More bad news for the wannabes: Incumbency usually figures as a politician's greatest asset; four of the five-member board filed. Jennifer Dougherty's shellacking four years ago was the exception that proves the rule. I know her claque blames the charismatic name of Ron Young; this is why her "faithful" Democrats threw their efforts and weight behind Republican Jeff Holtzinger who decided late this spring to turn in his City Hall keys.
Marcia Hall is dropping out; she was the top choice among voters for the board, in 2005. The other four have filed: Alan Imhoff (R), David (Kip) Koontz (D), Donna Kuzemchak (D) and Paul Smith (R). I can't see either Republican getting dumped in the primary. One Democrat might fall, depending on who heads the ticket. The other places will be very much a matter of what happens the next two months.
In alphabetic order, here are the contenders who seem to have an advantage only because of affiliation or background:
*Carol Krimm has a leg-up by being Delegate Galen Clagett's legislative assistant.
*Josh Bokee's received exposure by spending time on the city Planning Commission – good or bad.
*Michael O'Connor ran before; he once hosted cablevision's Pressing Issues.
*Kelly Russell retired from the police force, where she was a member of the clique gathered around Harold Domer. Had the former captain been elected sheriff, she would have gone along. Now she's running for city office.
*Karen Lewis Young had a successful marketing career before she married former mayor Ron Young. She's now a consultant.
*Bill Ashton has been a political activist for years; this is his third go for alderman.
*Joe Cohen owns downtown's British Cigars and Goodies; from that perch he's made a lot of friends and owns a center for talking local politics.
*Senita Conyers is the daughter of Bishop Samie Conyers; by running several times for public office he has established their name.
In addition, Democrat John Daniels came along my neck of Market Street and left a flyer that tells me he also lives downtown. I have no idea where he stands on the needed reform for the Historic Preservation Commission. That seems to be Republican Bill Cassidy's platform, and I agree.
Among the others I know little except the brief bios that the papers revealed; they are: Democrat Andrew Kotkin and Republicans Shelley Aloi, George Bauer IV, Amanda Haddaway, William Huckenpoehler and John William Shupe.
As a columnist, I offer commentary on people and situations readers should know. I am not a reporter who must dig up the facts; I played that role for years. That puts me in the position of other voters: politicians must make news or contact me. By the way, I have voted in every election since 1983, the year I moved to Frederick.
And I agree with George Wenschhof: The modern primaries have averaged less than 20 percent turnout. Holding the city elections in this off-year makes sense only to politicians who want to control the city. Get it moved!