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| Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Cindy A. Rose |


As Long as We Remember...

February 26, 2016

Frederick’s Political Pot is Brewing

Harry M. Covert

The political pot may sometime just simmer on low. Just when everybody figures all is quiet around and about, the bubbling erupts and spews on some prospects. Almost in unison murmurs abound, “Who me?”


It only takes a blink of an eye or nano-second for the genie in the bottle to smile on a suspect. Lives change instantly, battle lines are drawn and friends and enemies get involved. Gosh, this is great.


A year has passed quickly in Frederick County. Tongues are wagging, promises are being made and quiet contemplative candidate considerations are swirling. Of course, lots of this is being done amid eateries, watering holes, fire stations, through emails and other communications. Gabfests no longer exist in smoke-filled back rooms.


Probably the best two elected jobs in these parts are the county executive and sheriff. The other non-competitive popularity contest is the person without portfolio who can extol virtues or decry those who want some public combat.


Those without official positions need only to keep their ears alert and nose to the grindstone. They also need to pay attention to all of the signs, omens and gossips.


If you are still with me, a number of names are coming to the fore wanting to be crowned county executive. They want to face the incumbent who has complete authority in all public matters. The exception is the judiciary. I’m envious. Unless some unexpected codes are made, the county executive’s job is better than being governor, circuit court judge or congress member. Could be “forever and ever amen.”


Let me add, being president of the County Council is subservient to the executive. Being a member of the Maryland General Assembly is also submissive. Those members won’t like this, but it’s a fact.


Talk has been spreading like wildfire the names of personages who’d love to be Jan Gardner’s successor in three years. That sounds like a long time, but it’s not. Ms. Gardner is a strong leader and possessor of overwhelming county-wide support.


Current Council President Harold “Bud” Otis has hinted often that he wants to end his public career as county executive. This will be a difficult chase for him. His once political supporters, conservative Republicans of all kinds, say he is a secretive supporter and member of the local Democratic progressive thoughts. Imagine if he suggested to the Madam Executive he wanted her job. That is probably an illusion on his part.


Then there is Del. Kathy Afzali. Her ambition is to leave the General Assembly and land at Winchester Hall. It will be difficult for her to dance her way against the current office holder. Her showgirl persona was respected at the Radio City Music Hall, but how about around Church Street?


Some other possibilities are moving and shaking in county circles. No preachers, no retired judges, no former candidates at this point. For the fun of it, I could mention people like newspaperman Cliff Cumber, radio personality Pattee Brown, wireless talker Tim May, historian Raleigh Boaze or businessman extraordinaire Clyde Crum. I won’t do this though because they may be too good for the citizenry.


The real person being begged to run for the executive post is four-star Sheriff Chuck Jenkins. This is not an attempt at humor. Imagine the political experts on this.


Jenkins has established the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office as one of the best, if not the model, for all of Maryland. He is recognized by the National Sheriff’s Association for his leadership in the immigration troubles that continue in the national conversation. His department is a leading law enforcement agency that keeps the county safe, puts criminals in jails and the court system, and is becoming a sought-after talking head on national news programs.


While the encouragement is serious to have him leave as Sheriff-for-Life to run the county, he probably is flattered by such support and ongoing talk. But, he loves his position and the people do too. Lots of folks aren’t aware that Sheriff Jenkins was asked to become Maryland State Police Superintendent moments after the new governor was sworn in.


Sheriff Jenkins was modest about this but declined because he “loves his present position,” Maryland’s statewide loss but Frederick’s triumph.


I haven’t and won’t ask Executive Gardner for comment, but I suspect she would rather face someone else in a re-election bid, even if other possibles could unleash opposition campaigns.


It would be something if Mr. Jenkins could have both positions of Sheriff-Executive. Naturally that would be unethical. But if citizens would want that combined posts, why not?


Now while Sheriff Jenkins is being courted, offered campaign contributions and asked to consider the not-too-far-off challenge, he loves the radio call, “Car One, the Sheriff.”


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