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October 27, 2009

Then There Are Five

Roy Meachum

Let me confess up front that I have been to no candidate forums and was fed stories that proved no more than flimsy rumors. This does not make me unusual in the community. What sets me apart from two-thirds of my fellow registered voters? I plan to hike over to the Evangelical Lutheran polling place next Tuesday.


What makes me more alien is the passion with which I regard elected officials’ performances. Every one of them. The most crassly political and self-serving is Commissioner John “Lennie” Thompson. His latest “bully” move tried to breathe air into the long-gone matter of immigration. When only two people showed up for a hearing on the issue, I was slapped in the face with how irrelevant most positions and projects held by politicians elected before the economic downturn. Mr. Thompson bleated meaningless justifications, as is his wont.


A week from today Frederick City voters will choose the next batch of aldermen and according to my figuring their faces will be totally new, with a single exception – if I’m right. In this case, the column casts itself in a mold of ancient Delphi – the ur-source for Western prognostications. Instead of livers of dead chickens, I study the shapes and patterns of the recent past.


Three-time Alderman Donna Kuzemchak embodies the role of before-the-crisis officials. She rants and raves in whimsical fashion. Holding herself aloof from the voting process seems important to her strategy; so she’s able to criticize whatever the majority decides. I’m at a dead loss to understand what she really contributes to the governance of City Hall. She is a mean and spiteful human being who inflicts pain – to the point of tears – on helpless staff. That’s the greatest abuse of power I know.


Republican Alan Imhoff and I have had a mostly warm relationship; no one could call us enemies. But I find his attitudes and thoughts out of synch with what’s going on. This has little to do with politics; his personal behavior seems to float above and beyond what the community needs.


Democratic candidate Kelly Russell evidently has made lots of friends in the community; her signs are everywhere. As a police official, I remember her as a bully with attitude, relying on Captain Harold Domer to back her play. In return she rendered him blind obedience. And as some might remember, I fought very hard against Mr. Domer’s campaign to become county sheriff; Ms. Russell was slated for an important position had he won. He did not. I find her totally smarmy: unctuous and insincere to the point she makes me want to toss my cookies.


Republicans Amanda Haddaway and Chris Huckenpoehler wended their way through the primaries, but they appear increasingly doomed next Tuesday, despite his signs on public posts where they should not legally be. Barring miracles, they are easy outs next Tuesday.


Michael O’Connor casts an unknown strength into the election; his continuing appearance on cablecast’s Pressing Issues left me unimpressed but obviously brought him a following to the point he must be considered a “possible” Democratic alderman.


More probable in my book is Republican C. Paul Smith; he knows who he is, and that might be quite enough to warrant his “cool” approach to campaigning. Unflappable and other attributes come to mind. We do not agree politically on much, but I would rather have his honesty and integrity in public life than so many others of “like” thinking.


Given the majority of registered voters in the city are Democrats, Carol Krimm has to be considered a favorite; she’s worked for both delegates Sue Hecht and Galen Clagett. Ms. Krimm must be considered the best politically connected; since her former bosses are known to differ, she’s respected throughout the party spectrum. Furthermore, in the way she’s maintained a low profile, it can be safely assumed she has made few enemies.


Accompanying Democrat Carol Krimm into my top three picks is Republican Shelley Aloi. Whatever her party label, she is an impressive human being; her eyes lock on a face and a subject. A Thomas Johnson and Hood College graduate, she has networks – family, friends and acquaintances – that she can access immediately, for the benefit of city residents. Wherever she places when next week’s votes are finally counted, Ms. Aloi will end up the day on the Board of Aldermen.


Since she topped the Democratic primaries, Karen Lewis Young has been generally regarded as the candidate most like to succeed the retiring Marcia Hall as president pro tem. That’s how I see it. People who rush to attribute her electoral strength to her marriage to long-time Mayor Ron Young fail to take into account her intelligence, power of analyzes and perceptivity; she is a very strong personality in her own right. Ms. Young offers Frederick a great abundance of opportunities and resources, including the man she’s married to. He’s the lagniappe – something extra in my native New Orleans!


My gut puts three ladies in office: Karen Young, Shelley Aloi and Carol Krimm. My instinct says they will be joined by C. Paul Smith. The fifth spot still floats in the atmosphere.


But Donna Kuzemchak and Kelly Russell are a curse that should not happen (again) to this city I love.


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