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November 2, 2009

On the Mayoral Race in Fredericků

Michael Kurtianyk

What an extremely cordial, civil race for mayor of the City of Frederick. This is a great breath of fresh air from the race four years ago.


Both Randy McClement and Jason Judd acquitted themselves well during this election season. Both bring diverse experiences and will be excellent leaders for Frederick City. Both ran excellent campaigns, and, partisan politics aside, both did well in the various forums held this fall.


The one hiccup I saw was the local Republican Central Committee’s raising the question of Mr. Judd’s employment with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and that organization’s connections with ACORN. Looking back, the raising of the question was, and still is, valid. I was surprised that moderators didn’t raise the question more often in the final weeks of the race. I was glad to see Mr. McClement didn’t continue the arguments.


Both Mr. Judd and Mr. McClement should thank their lucky stars that they will be surrounded by an excellent group of aldermen.


At the final mayoral candidates’ forum, held at Frederick Community College last week, I had the good fortune of sitting next to Steve Berryman, a loyal Republican and contributor to The Tentacle. Mr. Berryman was a gracious person, and great to sit with. It was funny (to me) hearing his reactions to the comments made by Mr. Judd and Mr. McClement.


It occurred to me that what would make the forums more interesting would be commentators from each party having an opportunity to talk about the forum as it is happening. Wouldn’t it be great to hear Mr. Berryman say something like: “What? Mr. Judd obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about!” Or a Bob Kresslein, chairman of the Democratic Central Committee, say: “Well, obviously, Mr. McClement, though a likable fellow, hasn’t held a leadership position in politics yet.”


On the Aldermen…


Can anyone tell me a stronger field of candidates in the city’s history? Top to bottom, the Democrats have a stronger field than the Republicans. All five primary winners on the Democrat side have justified the Gazette’s endorsement (with the exception of Donna Kuzemchak). To see that group of aldermen on the dais would not be a bad thing.


However, I like the institutional knowledge that incumbents Paul Smith and Alan Imhoff would return to the city. Having those two incumbents return would benefit the city greatly. Amanda Haddaway and Shelley Aloi ran excellent races, and handled themselves well in the forums and on the radio. It will come down to this issue: how much will the city buyout affect the voters’ decisions on whom they vote.


On the Halloween effigies…


As part of the city’s annual Halloween display at Baker Park, effigies are hung off their belts or under the arms (not around the necks) in the Baker park trees. To me, references to past historical lynchings are misconstrued.


Though the Parks and Recreation Department should have kept the dummies low (maybe at the base of trees or park benches, the reactions by the local NAACP and President Guy Djoken, are too extreme.


Rather than sitting down to discuss this with the mayor or the Parks and Recreation staff, President Djoken chose to bring in local and Washington media to state his case. By doing so, he reiterated another sad stereotype: that we here are all a bunch of Frednecks who still think the Civil War was an unfortunate loss by the South. President Djoken should have acted more civilly, but chose not to. This is unfortunate, and I hope he doesn’t continue this course of action in the future. Private discussions are better than public arguments.


On the Moxley Farm…


Is anybody else out there besides me amused at the whole Moxley Farm circus? A few weeks ago, the town of Walkersville amended their charter so that they could obtain a mortgage. Until then the town could only borrow through a bond process or in anticipation of tax revenue. With the amendment, Walkersville can now borrow money (i.e. obtain a mortgage) "for the acquisition of construction and capital improvement projects," as well as for "any other proper public purposes as deemed necessary by the burgess and town commissioners."


The terms of the loan are as follows: $800,000 mortgage for 15 years, at an interest rate of 4.15% (way to go Frederick County Bank!). This mortgage, coupled with pulling money out of the Maryland Local Government Investment Pool, will pay for the $4.71 million dollar purchase of the Moxley Farm. The purchase of the farm was a result of a lawsuit brought on by David Moxley, owner of the farm.


How’s the fiscal responsibility going up there in Walkersville? Wouldn’t it have been more prudent if the town had worked with Mr. Moxley in a less contentious manner, so that a lawsuit didn’t have to be filed?


And by the way, isn’t one of our county commissioners from Walkersville? Why is he silent on this issue? If this occurred elsewhere, then Commissioner John L. “Lennie” Thompson would be grabbing the headlines and crying things like “taxpayers lose” or some such nonsense. His silence is deafening on this issue.


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