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As Long as We Remember...

January 10, 2011

Reading Kai Hagen's Tea Leaves

Earl 'Rocky' Mackintosh

Well, if you haven't noticed already, former Commissioner Kai Hagen is on the campaign trail; not sure that he ever really stopped campaigning after his sixth place showing in last November's Frederick Board of County Commissioners' race.


He seems to have become the "Go to Guy" in the local press as the voice of the loyal opposition to the current board. Since his fall, he has freely accepted interviews on the local talk radio shows; and, of course, he offers up daily opinions on issues he considers relevant from the local to national levels on his "Kai Hagen, Politician" Facebook page, among other places.


He's right in there building a case against this new board with opinions on all the hot topics coming out of Winchester Hall: ethics reform, privatizing departments, the county budget, the possible shut down of the Office of Sustainability, charter government, PATH and, of course, the proposed reinstatement of properties that were down zoned in the last year of his tenure.


Beginning with his campaign in 2006 through his commissioner term, his ability to pontificate and relentlessly press his point became almost as legendary as Lennie Thompson's style of bullying and intimidating.


This lead to his unique ability to burn bridges without even noticing the fire or smelling the smoke. The well-covered rift between Mr. Hagen and former director of Utilities & Solid Waste Management Michael G. Marschner is one example; but less covered was the general lack of respect he earned from a number of the key elected municipal leaders throughout the county.


Despite all that, the fact is Mr. Hagen has built a strong and faithful following, and it is more than obvious that he is laying the ground work for a return to the political limelight. It is clear that he still thinks of himself as a strong and influential voice which can exact change in our county government. He proved that point over the last four years.


His passion to return to center stage has not been openly stated but comes out in his commentary. Just a few days after his November defeat he posted a Facebook comment: "…I have no idea if I'll ever run for office in Frederick County again. But, since I'm certainly not saying I won't, I'd like to ask all of you to save your 'Kai Hagen' yard signs…"


I have to ask, if not a run in Frederick County, where else? Maybe he has grander plans – who knows. Does he still have that fire? Can he rally enough troops to regain an elected slot in county government again? I think he does on both counts.


With that stated, while I rarely find common ground with Mr. Hagen on the issues, I've been trying to read the leaves of my green tea lately, and I see an announcement in the works for just about three years from now that he is back in the county commissioner contest.


There is a lot of time between now and then, and many things can change the political landscape.


For one, Frederick Countians could be casting not only a vote for county commissioners in November 2014, but also one for a form of charter government … that will likely make it more interesting.



Rocky Mackintosh is President of MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He also writes for He can be contacted at


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