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March 8, 2010

Campaign Diary Swearing In

Michael Kurtianyk

Wednesday, March 3 – I had the good fortune of being in Winchester Hall for the swearing-in ceremony of Blaine Young as commissioner for Frederick County. I sat next to my friend Jay Geiser, the owner of Doc Geiser’s Carryout and Catering. The room was packed, and I understand that there were even more people in an overflow room, watching the ceremony on television monitors.


The ceremony itself was reflective of the newly-appointed commissioner: The Pledge of Allegiance was led by his sons, introductions were made, Mr. Young spoke, and the ceremony ended with local notables Debbie Williams and Bill Hall leading everyone in a rendition of God Bless America. Food and beverages were supplied by Barley & Hops, a long-time supporter of Mr. Young.


One of the first things that struck me (and, I found out later, many others) was that current Commissioner John L. “Lennie” Thompson was not there. We saw many of the municipal leaders from throughout the county, but not Commissioner Thompson.  The following appeared in The Gazette:


“When contacted at his home after Wednesday's ceremony, Thompson said he had a dentist appointment and was also busy catching up on business related to his private law practice.”


But Thompson also said he had no plans to attend because he is still not pleased with some of the comments Mr. Young has made about him over the years.


"He has made less-than-kind remarks about me," he said. "You don't wipe away 10 years of that kind of stuff."


Current Commissioner President Jan Gardner gave her remarks, and reminded Mr. Young that job growth has been occurring during the current board’s term. This specific point, in my opinion, took the wind out of one of Mr. Young’s sails. Ms. Gardner anticipated Mr. Young citing job growth as one of his priorities. Sure enough, job growth was emphasized by Mr. Young.


After Commissioner Gardner spoke, Commissioner David Gray went up to say a few words, essentially welcoming Mr. Young to the Board of County Commissioners. After his brief statement, Commissioner Kai Hagen was asked if he wanted to say a few words. Commissioner Hagen declined.


A priority that Mr. Young stated was important to him was the exploration of an alternative form of government. He stated that he would look at a charter form of government. It will be interesting how the topic of exploring a charter form of government will play in this year’s election, as I’m sure it will be one of many topics. This election will truly be defined by multiple topics, not just one or two.


All in all, the swearing-in ceremony was well-executed and smoothly run.


Thursday, March 4 - Coffee with the Candidate


Of the people I spoke with at Trout’s Towne Restaurant in Woodsboro, one in particular stood out. She lives locally and she spoke with me at length about how her land was down-zoned to agriculture and she was very upset, adding that there are others throughout the county who experienced the same reduction, which in turn reduces the value in her land.


Though I did not know her parcel in particular, I could not advise her as to the logic of the zoning reduction. All I could offer was support if she needed to discuss the matter further. I agreed with her that she was not alone, but that I did not know about the history of her parcel.


Friday, March 5, 2010


I had a great meeting with a local municipal leader who shared with me the history of the relationship between the current Board of County Commissioners and municipal leaders throughout the county. We discussed how residents have seen and are frustrated with how adversarial some of the conversations have been between these governing bodies. We also discussed what would likely be the campaign issues this year, and agreed that there certainly would be more than one topic.


Quick Takes…


I was not able to attend the announcement by C. Paul Smith, former alderman of The City of Frederick, that he would be running for county commissioner. He was one of the many Republicans who applied for the seat vacated by Commissioner Charles Jenkins, who was appointed by the governor to fill delegate Rick Weldon’s seat.


It is my understanding that there will be at least two more candidates filing for office later this month.


Glad to see warmer weather, but I’m not crazy about all the mud.


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