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September 28, 2009

Up Hill Battles in The City

Michael Kurtianyk

Many are extremely disappointed in the voter turnout in the Frederick City elections this year. To have only a 17.98 percent turnout was indeed horrible. Only 4,485 of the city's 29,943 registered Republicans and Democrats cast ballots.


In 2005, 25% of voters cast their ballots in the primary. I hope that more voters come out for the general election in November. In the meantime, some interesting things happened in the aldermanic races this year.


On the Republican side, the two incumbents won. Paul Smith and Alan Imhoff won, with 16.8% and 14.9% of the votes respectively. The next three candidates, Shelley Aloi, Amanda Haddaway, and William Huckenpoehler, had only 84 votes separating them. However, they are more than 200 votes shy of Incumbent Imhoff, who finished second to Mr. Smith.


With a low voter turnout, and fewer Republican voters in the City of Frederick, these three have an uphill battle in the general election. Both Shelley Aloi and Amanda Haddaway have represented themselves well during their campaigns. They’ve worked hard, and voters should listen closely to their issues, and, more importantly, how they would represent the citizens of Frederick.


On the Democrat side, only one of the two incumbents moved on to the general election: Donna Kuzemchak, who garnered 1,448 of the votes, only 21 behind the leading vote-getter, Karen Young. Ms. Kuzemchak maintains a strong base and did well by keeping her constituents informed of her position on issues.


The incumbent who did not make it out of the primary was David “Kip” Koontz. He ended up in seventh place, almost 300 votes behind the fifth-place cutoff slot. Local politico George Wenschhof said that Kip lacked the “zeal” he had four years ago. That may be true. Kip has done well in his four years in office, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.


Besides Ms. Young and Ms. Kuzemchak, the other three primary winners were Carol Krimm, Michael O’Connor, and Kelly Russell. Only 31 votes separated these three candidates, with Mr. O’Connor edging out Ms. Krimm by 15 votes – 1417-1402 – for third place. Ms. Russell finished fifth with 1386.


Has there ever been a stronger field of Democrat candidates for the office of alderman? Any of these five will represent Frederick City well. Add to the mix that Josh Bokee was a close sixth in the race. One hopes that he will continue his excellent service to the city, and he will seek office in the future.


Handicapping the race will be difficult. The 10 primary winners are, to varying degrees, excellent candidates for a permanent seat on the city’s dais. It’s everyone’s race to win, and everyone’s race to lose.


My best advice is that the incumbents especially don’t take lightly their experience with the voters this year. The race is wide open, and there is no guarantee that the incumbents will win. They will need to work hard in the campaign between now and the general election. They cannot lose their zeal for the alderman position.


With the mayoral primary race over, the dust has settled, leaving Democrat Jason Judd and Republican Randy McClement still standing. Have there ever been two calmer personalities than these two? Both will bring their unique, quiet approach to the office if elected. Neither has entered into a mud-slinging campaign, and their civility shines through in the approaches. May this civility continue through Election Day.


A lack of civility continues to haunt the Republican Central Committee. Why did this group see fit to smear candidate Judd by linking him to ACORN? Why raise ridiculous questions, instilling false ideas in the minds of city voters?


The answer is obvious, and it comes down to numbers: the central committee expects another low voter turnout, and with 5,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, the committee must feel that their candidate has little chance to win. Otherwise, why spend their time and money on an unnecessary smear campaign, instead of focusing their resources on supporting Mr. McClement in a positive manner?


The Republican candidate would do well to continue to distance himself from his party’s central committee.


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