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April 12, 2010

Campaign Diary Post Easter Weekend

Michael Kurtianyk

April 2-5 – Easter Weekend – Our family typically drives up to New York to see my mom and my wife’s parents, all in Upstate New York. However, this year, due to my candidacy and real estate commitments, we stayed home. It was great to get caught up with work and reflect on a few things.


One thing that I did reflect on was the role faith plays in a campaign. Does one’s faith come to the fore when talking to people? Does faith have any influence on one’s position on issues? Does a candidate even think about faith when it comes to daily campaigning?


I don’t know really, except to say that faith for many is ingrained and becomes a part of a person’s approach to life. Faith, coupled with experiences, form the principles that people use in decision-making. That my Catholic faith informs me doesn’t mean that I am any less or more principled than others. But it does help to know where people are coming from when discussing issues.


I did have breakfast Saturday morning with my colleagues at I actually look forward to these gatherings, for they are never dull. I always pity those who are not there, for they are picked on, sometimes mercilessly. It’s tough being a Democrat and in the minority, but it’s something one becomes accustomed to in these parts.


April 6 – Here Come the Budget Cuts


Today, the Board of County Commissioners unveiled the draft of the county’s budget for fiscal year 2011. It totals $434 million, down from $449 million a year ago and $466 million two years ago. As the budget shrinks, the belt-tightening gets harder to do. One area of focus was education. Of the $434 million, $224 million is allocated to education, which is down $5 million from last year’s budget. This includes $3.4 million in funding and $1.2 million in a penalty that may be assessed by the Maryland Board of Education.


Now, you may say: “Whoa! A $1.2 million dollar penalty? Why not avoid the penalty?” Well, let’s look at where this is coming from.


The Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 to apply for a waiver from the state board's Maintenance of Effort requirement, which sets the county's funding level for schools. If the waiver is denied and county does not fund the $3.4 million required, the county could be penalized $1.2 million. Two commissioners voted against the waiver request: Jan Gardner and Kai Hagen. Commissioners David Gray, John L. “Lennie” Thompson, Jr., and Blaine Young voted for it.


Meeting the Maintenance of Effort will be a serious topic for discussion over the next couple of months, as public hearings and discussions continue.


Commissioner Thompson continues to look for ways to make this county business-unfriendly. He is looking to slash &Obituaries – Sunday April 11, 2010

Obituaries – Sunday April 11, 2010 $873,823 from the Office of Economic Development; $596,234 from Workforce Development; and $512,273 from non-departmental Workforce Development.


It’s a good thing that the proposed budget is a draft.


April 7-9 – Job Growth Focus


I set up meetings for next week with leaders to discuss the draft of the budget, so for the rest of this week, my focus was on job growth. These three days were spent with various business people who came here to start businesses, and with others who tried but couldn’t. I heard stories from many people on all sides who expressed frustration with the county.


There was also the article earlier this week about Lewis and Tanya Remsberg in Walkersville who may lose their acreage due to the down-zoning decision (from industrial to agricultural) by the county. That they are not alone in their plight doesn’t make it any easier for them.


In order to have a vibrant economy, a jurisdiction should have a good balance of commercial, residential, and industrial assessable tax base. For commercial, this should be about 25%. Currently, this county is at around 15%. The down-zoning of land not slated for development down to agricultural zoning isn’t helping.


April 10 – WFMD’s Frederick Forum


I received the call earlier this week to join candidate Richard Johnson and current Commissioner Kai Hagen on WFMD’s Frederick Forum from 9-11 A.M., hosted by Pattee Brown and Zoltan Nagy. Candidate Paul Smith arrived late, due to a previous commitment.


It wasn’t a debate. It was more of a roundtable discussion of what the issues are likely to be. It was great fun, and I relished that it was a cordial discussion rather than a heated debate. We spent the most time on the charter form of government: what it means; what it could look like, etc.


I brought my binder, but never referred to it or took notes. Everything just came naturally, and I was comfortable. We joked quite a bit during the commercial breaks, talking baseball, television shows, and the like. It was a good experience.


Now, on to county budget issues.


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