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March 21, 2011

What a Way to Run a Railroad

Michael Kurtianyk

In a press release dated March 4, the Frederick Board of County Commissioners announced that 15 candidates were selected to be interviewed for the new Frederick County Charter Board.


They are as follows (in order of each interview): Rocky Mackintosh, Bob Kresslein, Jeff Holtzinger, Dana French, Sheila Leatherbury, Debra Borden, Doug Browning, Hayden Duke, Fred Anderson, Richard Johnson, James Hoover, Ken Coffey, Tom Browning, Earl Robbins (telephone interview) and Joan Aquilino-McIntyre. Most are men and most are Republican.


Originally, 52 county citizens/registered voters applied to volunteer on this new Charter Board, myself included. Tom Lynch withdrew his application due to health reasons. Linda Norris-Waldt dropped out for personal reasons.


Included in the press release, and presumably in the mailed envelope that each of the finalists received, was a list of questions that needed to be answered prior to their interviews.


As the press release stated, this was important “…in order to get an overview of their interests, background and commitment to creating a charter to change the present form of government in Frederick County.”


Questions posed to each candidate can be found on, in a March 8, 2011, column by my colleague Earl “Rocky” Mackintosh:


I have no issues with the questions, except for question #2:


Please share with us your vision of what the charter should look like. Do you support a countywide police force or the current form that we have now with a full service Sheriff’s office?


The county already has the authority to do this – the county doesn’t need a charter for this to happen. I am not sure why this was even asked.


My concern is with the process: these questions should have been asked of each candidate before the list was whittled down to 15. It’s difficult to understand how the commissioners forgot what the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce did for the 2010 county commissioner race last November. Each of the candidates had to email answers to a series of chamber questions. Then, a chamber committee reviewed everyone’s responses. Next the committee ranked the answers as to which candidates were aligned with the best interest of the chamber and its members.


This process should have been followed for the charter-writing committee. By his own admission, Commissioner Blaine Young said that he knew all 52 applicants. Did the other four commissioners also know all of the applicants? I doubt it. Does this mean that if the commissioner didn’t know you, then you had no chance of being appointed? Sometimes a resumé and letter of intent aren’t enough. This is why I suggest that the aforementioned questions should have been given to each of the 50 applicants.


More so than any other appointed committee, this one could shape our county’s future. Should not the process have been one in which the commissioners and staff looked at more than just a resumé? Aren’t these questions so important that they should have been used as part of the filtering process?


It’s just another example of the commissioners imposing their will on a process without thinking it through (See appointments of an assistant county manager and a “business development-retention administrator”).


I am disappointed that I did not at least get interviewed. However, I will not seek a special election. That, to me, would be sour grapes and not worthy of wasting taxpayer dollars ($150,000 – $200,000).


The interviews took place March 10, at 15-minute intervals, at Winchester Hall. The interviews were open to the public and were televised live on FCG–TV, Comcast Cable Channel 19.


Here are the candidates who were chosen: Fred Anderson, Joan Aquilino, Debra Borden, Tom Browning, Ken Coffey, Jeff Holtzinger, James Hoover, Bob Kresslein and Rocky Mackintosh; and three nonvoting alternates: Doug Browning, Dana French and Earl Robbins.


Of the 15 interviewed, the three not appointed to the committee were Richard Johnson, Sheila Leatherbury and Earl Robbins.


I was surprised that Doug Browning wasn’t in the first nine. As for the rest, I know most, but not all. The group represents some diversity in business experiences, so we’ll see what this committee churns out.


These are solid candidates who offer much to this committee. The real work begins now: not just writing the charter, but also selling it to the county voters.


Yellow Cab
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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