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November 12, 2013

When a win is not a win

Guest Columnist

Karl Bickel


A win is not always a win. There is more to politics than a victorious campaign and the winning of an election. The victor must be able to govern; they must be able to serve the people who elected them.


Now we are seeing calls for Alderman-elect Phil Dacey’s resignation even before he has taken office.


The 11th hour robocalls on behalf of Phil Dacey’s campaign targeting Donna Kuzemchak neither did him any good or Ms. Kuzemchak any harm. In fact, Alderman-elect Kuzemchak has come to be viewed as a victim by many, while Mr. Dacey has acquired the label of a novice dirty trickster.


Republican state party calls made to perspective Frederick City voters claimed Ms. Kuzemchak had not paid city taxes, taxes that had been paid months before, paid late, but; non-the-less, they had been paid. The calls’ assertions were simply not true.


The robocalls are said to have been the brainchild of Ted Dacey, brother and campaign manager of the alderman-elect. This was not Brother Ted’s first plunge into the murky waters of last minute robocalls.


While campaign manager for former Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, during the 2012 Republican primary, brother Ted employed the same tasteless tactic against State Sen. David Brinkley, who, to his credit, has publically denounced this latest unseemly action by his fellow Republican.


The fallout from the candidate-sanctioned robocalls will very likely include the inability of Alderman-elect Dacey to be effective in representing the interests of those who supported his candidacy. Effective governance is based on the art of compromise. The art of compromise is based on active negotiating in an atmosphere of trust.


A negotiation that gets beyond partisan positions and focuses on substantive interests requires some minimum level of trust. Reaching political compromise, a necessity for effective governance, is not possible without some level of trust on the part of those involved in negotiations.


With Mr. Dacey being outnumbered by the opposition party four to one on the Board of Aldermen, the importance of developing good working relationships based on trust cannot be overestimated. Under the best of circumstances, gaining the respect and trust of colleagues from the other party in order to represent the views of Mr. Dacey’s – presumably more conservative – constituency could be a tall but not unattainable order. His campaign faux pas has now made it nearly impossible.


It is not unreasonable to expect that Mr. Dacey’s fellow board members will be guarded in any negotiations, deliberations, discussions or even small talk where he is present. It will be difficult to escape the aura of suspicion and mistrust that will undoubtedly be present as a result of Ted Dacey’s campaign tactics. After all, his brother may choose to run against them all again in four years.


The truly unfortunate thing for those who supported Mr. Dacey’s candidacy is that their voice at City Hall is likely to carry even less weight, even less than one would expect with their candidate as the lone Republican on a Democrat-controlled board.


A win is not always a win.



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