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As Long as We Remember...

August 31, 2009

Plowing the Crowded Field

Steven R. Berryman

One reason for the poor turnout at municipal elections is a perceived lack of differentiation between the candidates. This year we also suffer the fog of a large field of aldermanic candidates for the City of Frederick.


Last Tuesday I invested my evening at Frederick Community College’s auditorium, where the 11 Republicans had at it. Some I knew before. All I know better now.


Of the relative newbies, I’ll cover several of my favorites below.


Thanks especially to The Frederick News-Post and WFMD radio, as well as the League of Women Voters for hosting the event; Moderator Dianah Gibson – news director from am930 – was quite distracting while asking the formatted questions, while Assistant City Editor Cliff Cumber, of the News-Post, performed a selfless and invaluable service as her “Vanna White,” doing the detail things.


Me, I managed to hide out up in back of the place in “peanut heaven” with Randy “Bagelmaster for Bürgermeister” McClement, Republican candidate for mayor, and also Gil House of Historic Preservation Commission fame.


We traded glances and winces, as some of the candidate exchanges were better than others.


Mr. McClement scribbled pencil notes furiously, taking in all the positions, and Mr. House took mental notes about candidates’ views on the Historical Preservation Commission.


All-in-all, The Republican Party should be proud of the diverse field of entry-level politicos, and the Frederick County Republican Party’s Central Committee was well positioned to take it all in with their board member, Bryan Smith, in attendance.


Certainly current Aldermen Alan E. Imhoff and C. Paul Smith acquitted themselves quite well. It would be an uphill battle to take either of these guys down in the primary on September 15.


Of course the two incumbents answering questions had a specific depth of knowledge that dwarfed the other nine put together, save one, Amanda Haddaway.


Ms. Haddaway uses her first name as a calling card, and can be easily identified as best prepared of the new-generation aldermanic candidates. I found her to present very well, and to stay on topic.


Her human resources and marketing background seems to serve her quite well in her role as campaigner, advocate, and candidate in general; she has the full pallet of communications tools with her already.


We first met as she invited herself to my community of Dearbought’s home owners’ meeting, where she did a self-introduction and fielded a few questions.


Very shortly thereafter we found that she had already acted upon one issue that came up concerning the dangerous intersection at the main Dearbought entrance of Sebastian and Rt. 26 and had involved our city police to the degree that they were initiating a traffic study for us!


Her platform includes reacting to a “failed current Board of Alderman” that have allowed spending to get away from them, without making the tough choices.


She’s very much in control of the conversations and won’t stop talking about “destination downtown,” her other passion.


Shelly Aloi gets very high marks from me as a great presenter and speaker; she’s a Hood College and Thomas Johnson High School alum.


This self-styled “citizens advocate” is quite the firebrand, and she was all about economic development as a response to revitalizing the tax base.


When queried about the Monocacy Boulevard project, she had figures and information at her fingertips.


Ms. Aloi is currently working to assist families to avoid foreclosures, according to her biography.


Joe Cohen is a local merchant, and advocates economic development, specifically via working through development of a new conference center complex.


With a British accent still, Joe’s a newly naturalized American citizen and proud of it!


Bill Ashton wins the prize for most secure in his positions and for self-assuredness in answers. Bill can give summary answers to complex questions, but having worked with him in the Help Save Maryland cause against the negative effects of illegal immigration, I can personally attest to his level of grasp on an issue and sincerity.


What you see is what you get, and very few people I know have attended more civic meetings and hearings than he. He actually goes back some 30 years as an involved local activist, and knows his stuff.


George Bauer was introduced to me at a local Republican meeting, and came to us from the Midwest. With a recent first newborn, George and his wife are forging a new life here via a series of Curves Health Spas that they jointly own.


Business knowledge is George’s claim to fame, and as such he has an interest in revitalizing the city’s West End. It’s his fresh idea to use an existing un-leased storefront in the FrederickTowne Mall as a police substation to encourage easier law enforcement involvement and to tackle crime there.


Over the total Republican gene pool of 11, our fair city will be well served by some combination of this group above, based upon the voter turnout and tally.


Tomorrow will be the turn for the Democrats’ aldermanic forum at Frederick Community College’s Jack Kussmaul Theater.


Getting the mix right is now up to you!


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