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August 7, 2013

Bowing Out of Frederick Politics?

Patrick W. Allen

It's not that there are too many young people in Frederick; it's that there are too many Young people in Frederick.


Recently a local columnist penned a politically slanted article extolling the virtues of Karen Lewis Young to be Frederick City’s next mayor, citing her scholastic achievements, but more importantly, her membership in a local political dynasty.


After decades of holding political positions at all levels of Frederick City and Frederick County government, it's time for this family dynasty, including Karen, to leave the stage. The Young’s are simply getting old in Frederick.


Broadly speaking, the Young dynasty and its ensemble of political caricatures, has done more to polarize the fabric of our community in much the same way that Carroll Creek divides Frederick City itself.


Ron Young, the patriarch and aging local fixture in Frederick politics is more than 20 years removed from his glory days as mayor of Frederick City – the glory days when Carroll Creek was an unsightly ditch; political party bosses ruled the city and county like it was a ward in South Boston; and holding court at the Jefferson Club was an everyday activity.


While a new coat of paint and upscale business/residential development has popped up along Market Street and Carroll Creek, much of the “dark side” of Frederick still exists, albeit skillfully hidden from obvious public view.


Nowadays, Ron Young poses as a senior, by age, statesman in Annapolis from his outside corner table at a downtown Market Street restaurant…weather permitting…Karen Lewis Young dutifully and quietly sitting alongside.


The elder Youngs are not alone in contributing to the polarization of Frederick City and County. By his own admission, Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young, who markets himself on the radio as "growing up on the streets of Frederick,” began his political career and connections as a boy.


There is plenty of press and published exposé documents regarding Blaine Young’s rise through the ranks of both political parties and publicly held positions. We can leave that discussion for another day after Mr. Young decides what political office he aspires to next, and what he’s going to do with what remains of his campaign war chest if the voters decide “thanks, but no thanks.”


With a new form of sovereign government for Frederick County becoming a reality in 2014, the importance of the 2013 mayoral race looms as the most important race in recent memory. The county is basing its new Charter Government on a 25-page executive summary document which lacks the minimum specificity regarding function and operational characteristics…creating an inevitable train wreck between the city and county administrators. For this reason alone, Frederick City requires a mayor with leadership skills and the ability to guide the city through the turbulent years as the county finds its new footing.


Karen Lewis Young is not currently – nor has she proven to be – a person with the skills or temperament to facilitate the demands of the office which she seeks.


In an email sent to freshman politician Karen Young on June 17th and made available for review, a Frederick resident posed several questions to her seeking her response. Having read the email exchange, it has to be noted that the resident put forward some hard questions and abrasive comments. But, hey, welcome to politics.


You can’t survive in politics if you’re only willing to accept financial contributions and attend rubber chicken events.


Instead of answering the questions herself, Karen forwarded the email to her state senator husband and former Mayor Ron Young, who responded to the email, but not to the questions…stating:


“People know that Karen and I are very different politically from Blaine. Make your jokes about [the] Young's if you like. Frankly, I wouldn't want someone as low as you supporting me. I am sorry there are people like you in this community.”


Voters have to ask themselves if Karen Young cannot stand toe-to-toe with a constituent and answer her own emails during the campaign, then what becomes of Frederick City if she is elected mayor? Who will actually be running the city...Senator Ron or freshman Karen? What will happen when the state legislature is in session and Ron Young is in Annapolis? Will Frederick City be left without leadership for several months each year? Will Karen run through City Hall as if her hair is on fire…looking for solutions without fully understanding the problems?


There is a crookedness, real or perceived, that runs through the Young brand which is every bit as crooked as Carroll Creek.


Frederick City and Frederick County are long past being the sleepy, rural-paced environment that it used to be, although it does maintain a sense of kinship among its citizens. We are no longer physically disconnected and isolated from Baltimore and Washington. We are now considered to be a destination by many rather than a place to avoid by most.


The Young dynasty and its political DNA are no longer needed for this city or county to survive and thrive. It’s time to move on and move Frederick City into the 21st century. Each of the Young’s should be given a plaque...thanking them for their service...then a helping hand in locating the exit door.


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