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August 20, 2010

Politicians, not Politics

Roy Meachum

For coming up 26 years, some in this community think many of my columns are about politics. They are wrong.


Over those years in Washington, I learned policies and statements are no way to judge an official or wannabe candidates. The cliché generally holds: Say anything to get elected. Even the most ethical persons have their positions changed once in office through nothing of their doing. What people say or do off the platform matter more. And their party affiliation means squat.


In other words I have written all these years about politicians, not their craft.


This is why my views have consternated some readers. “Bound in by writ and bloody parchment,” they judge me by their own ambitions and desires. This week alone I went to gatherings in the names of Republican and Democratic candidates. I find no contradiction in cheering them both on.


Pushkin and I traveled out to Urbana’s Landon House Sunday to honor Michael Kurtianyk, who’s vying in a Democratic primary that will determine the party’s slate for the county’s Board of Commissioners in November. Likewise, Kelly Schulz deserves every chance to go to Annapolis; she’s fighting for the job left behind by Joe Bartlett, who’s never seem to be interested in the lifting and grunting that goes with representing the county.


Patrick Hogan I’ve known most of his GOP life. He was a thoughtful and considerate child, qualities he’s kept well into manhood and fatherhood. He spent four years in State House halls before being bulldozed aside by Democratic power machine, that’s how I describe Sue Hecht, who was a real wonder to observe all these years. She’s now retiring, taking away her formidable energy and quick, perceptive mind. Patrick is no less energetic and perceptive, in his subdued manner.


Michael Kurtianyk and I sort of stumbled into each other when he was a member of the Weinberg Center’s board of directors; from that beginning I have observed Michael as a professional in real estate and father of two beautiful daughters and husband to their mother. I’ve never seen him act selfishly, especially at the expense of others. The expression “not a mean bone in his body” particularly applies to my longtime friend.


Frankly, his filing for the Board of County Commissioners caught me by surprise; he has never been much of a public person, never given to words or actions that seek to impose his will on anyone. He is very thoughtful. In this context, he can convert extreme, irrational words into a logical sequence that betters his world and all about him.


Kelly Schulz is different; she’s good at bubbling. But while she’s cheering everybody’s spirits around, look at her dark, dark brown eyes; they are always weighing and balancing what she’s seeing and observing. Republicans, by and large, seem to appreciate the lady they elected to head their county central committee. She stepped down as chairman to run for the 4-A delegate’s seat. She lives in New Market, which makes her neighbors with one of my very favorite officials, state Sen. David Brinkley.


With my years spent writing about politicians going, I thought she was a natural guardian of the public’s interests; she decided before our first conversation. But I am in the legion that thinks Kelly will perform splendidly in looking out for Frederick’s interests in an atmosphere of wheeling-and-dealing. Her good looks won’t hurt; they may very well go to lull male officials who ignore her mental agility. And that’s where she truly shines.


It‘s not simply that I detest the handiwork of Alex Mooney, I abhor his attempt to foster on the local electorate his protégé; Michael Hough could not be more of a replica of his mentor. Not quite a clone. They are separate humans, but very much alike in their cynical summing up: enough money will buy any political office in Frederick County.


Fortunately for all concerned, incumbent Del. Charles Jenkins is a fighter; not cowed by all the cash brought in by Senator Mooney on Mr. Hough’s behalf. Charles may suffer by his lack of flamboyance in attracting voters’ eyes. But I have met and talked to him. Charles Jenkins is the real thing: responsible, listening and responsive to other viewpoints.


In future columns, I will share my insights and observations on this fretful election year. Stay tuned.


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