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October 29, 2009

Government Principles/City Elections

Patricia A. Kelly

“The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and that Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December….” U.S. Constitution. Don’t we wish!


The Declaration of Independence states that government exists to secure the inalienable rights of people: equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Somehow, over the past 233 years, our government has grown into a slurping, sucking monster, feeding upon itself, drooling, snorting, rearing up and occasionally appearing nude in the window, but never pausing for long in its march to control all.


This country was founded by adventurous people, who took a chance to make a life of productivity and freedom for themselves and their peers. They wanted to achieve and be rewarded for their achievements. They wanted to live in a society of personal responsibility and personal freedom, a society of free self-expression.


Many mistakes blot our record, from the stealing of Native American lands, to slavery and lynchings, to internment of loyal Japanese Americans, to vilifying entire cultures over the actions of a few. Our basic premise and our positive impact upon the work remained in spite of them. Land of the free, home of the brave. Land of opportunity. A place where you could achieve anything with hard work. That’s the United States of America.


Now, many of us have abandoned this concept. Instead of securing rights, the government is expected by many to provide sustenance, even to those who could take responsibility for themselves, medical care, even, God forbid, free cell phones and rollover minutes to welfare recipients! How far can this go?


Without even addressing the progressive growth of government and subsequent decrease in personal freedom in this country, we’re now experiencing the consequences of a great, big swing of the pendulum.


In our last administration, we experienced the effects of radical rightwing, religious ideology. “I won’t talk to you unless you behave the way I want. You hurt me so I am coming to your house and beating you up and all of your brothers and sisters. You people don’t look like me or believe in my God so you need to change. The big boys get to play however we want. We know best. Your culture and beliefs are not right. In fact, I think you’re making them up. You need to change to my way.”


Sounds like kindergarten, but it was much uglier, intended or not. The United States was founded upon a doctrine of inclusion.  That certainly wasn’t happening.


So, we’ve taken a hard left and elected a man who believes we need to re-create our society. I sympathize with his view that America is imperfect, and with his experience of being categorized because of his appearance. Our society is imperfect. He’s really as white as black, but that choice wasn’t available to him, upbringing notwithstanding. He was forced to be the guy who, standing on the street corner, caused everyone in the cars to lock their doors. That, and observing the good old boy network from the perspective of the New Age, made him think that government had to take care of everything.


It shouldn’t. It can shrink, if enough people are willing to make it happen, and to behave responsibly themselves.


We, in Frederick, can start with the city elections and – in particular – the mayoral race.


It’s been a hard one for me. Randy McClement is pragmatic and down to earth. Jason Judd is a very well-educated intellectual. Randy has worked steadily, an inch at a time, day after day, to create a viable business and to learn the operations of our city. Jason has been out in the big world, dreaming big dreams, returning now to lead Frederick to innovate and create long-term change, rather than just hanging on during these tough times.


Both agree that growth and development are essential to a vibrant city. Both want to focus on properties that are ready, with infrastructure already available. Both agree we need to streamline permitting and our land use management plan. Randy believes we should create a climate that makes it easy for business to flourish. Jason believes we should also give money to people in startup and small businesses.


Randy’s priorities are public safety, public works, including improving infrastructure and traffic flow, and public communications.


Jason’s are creating jobs, maintaining older neighborhoods, sustainable growth, including reviving failed development projects such as the Fredericktowne Mall and the Carmack Jay’s site.


Randy has a plan for starting his work as mayor, if elected. He has created an organizational chart, reducing the number of people who report directly to the mayor, and freeing up some of his time to advocate for the city.


Jason’s first plan is to make city goals clear.


Randy promises to be a “trusted shepherd” of tax dollars.


Jason says that public money is a public trust.


Both promise to get us through upcoming tough budget times. Randy’s modified zero-based budget means that each city director will be required to justify each line item for 25% of their budget, and that one director each year will have to do so for his entire budget.


Jason says he is an economist whose first job was as a budget analyst. He says most of his cuts will come in the area of pet projects, travel and overtime. He says he believes in investing in long term projects and revamping failed ones. He promises a long term financial plan which will prevent our jumping from budget crisis to budget crisis. He says we need someone who understands how the larger economy works, like he does.


Randy has experience managing 20-30 developments at once, maintaining infrastructure, getting snow removed, etc.


Jason’s strong suit is relationship building to identify and achieve common goals.


Jason says government must invest in people as well as infrastructure. Randy says government’s role is not to create jobs.


Randy’s a rock. Jason’s a very bright relationship builder.


I’ll take Randy. Hope you agree.


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