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As Long as We Remember...

Stand and Deliver

January 23, 2006

On January 17 a column appeared on The Tentacle entitled, "Like Father Like Son." It was authored by Chris Patterson. I find virtually every aspect of her criticisms of Ron Young profoundly unfair and very poorly researched.

In addition, it is infinitely more vindictive than the silly two words that started this whole debacle. While I will reserve comment on Blaine Young's "Ding Dong" ad, I will comment extensively on the analogy that has been made to Ron, the way he conducted his mayoral campaign and his behavior afterwards. First let me disclose that I am Ron Young's "significant other."

To begin with, Ms. Patterson claims that after the primary Ron continued to run against Mayor Dougherty. I am aware that Jennifer Dougherty has made a similar comment, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Only someone who failed to watch or listen would make that allegation.

As the individual who had responsibility for the marketing efforts during both the primary and general election, I have both an excellent memory and complete file of both the strategy and advertisements for both phases. While our advertising was somewhat reactive during the primary (Ms. Dougherty had made accusations that Ron was a liar and his information was inaccurate or, at least, outdated) we took a totally different approach during the general election.

Our advertisements in the general election stressed Ron's CEO experience, people management skills, large budget experience, knowledge of all functions in city government, past experience as an elected official, successful history of obtaining funding, experience working effectively at all levels of government and proven leadership skills. This was hardly positioning against Jennifer and it was totally different copy from the primary with the exception of the ad entitled "Six Good Reasons Why I Am Concerned About the Future of Frederick." This "feel-good" ad featured Ron's grandchildren. Contrary to what Ms. Patterson stated, we did not run any television advertising after the primary.

In addition, we publicized Ron's priorities for the first 100 days in office and ran a series of "advertorials" on growth, taxes, public safety, etc., solutions. These were hardly an attack on Mayor Dougherty but, rather, an attempt to show that Ron was listening to the voters' priorities and wanted to focus attention on their issues and provide solutions.

If we spent a lot of money educating the public on the issues, providing solutions and encouraging healthy debate of the issues; I have no regrets. Although Ron did criticize some aspects of the Dougherty administration, Jeff Holtzinger was equally, if not more, vocal by citing project mismanagement and cost overages.

When you loose an election by only 348 votes with 9,122 total votes, it is difficult to pin that margin on any one specific reason. Statisticians will tell you that this difference is not statistically significant. I know because I checked with some of the country's most respected statisticians.

Nevertheless, if 10.65% of Ms. Dougherty's primary supporters (180 individuals) were proactively encouraged to vote against Ron, that would do it. Also, Republicans sent by the state to campaign locally at the 11th hour made a concerted effort to encourage party loyalists to support the Republican candidate if they found both candidates equally acceptable. These two explanations seem far more plausible to me than Ms. Patterson's scenario.

Anyone who had their eyes open did not see an angry man in Ron Young on election night or the weeks that have followed. After one minute of disappointment Ron Young sprang into action and was as graceful and dignified in defeat as anyone I've ever witnessed. After congratulating Jeff in person with words of encouragement and admiration, he spent the remainder of the evening consoling his supporters. Yes, he consoled us, not the other way around. Since the election, both publicly and privately, he has remained one of Jeff's biggest fans.

Ms. Patterson's final criticism of Ron was for his failure to give Jennifer Dougherty a standing ovation at the recent inauguration. Mr. Patterson writes: "He refused to stand or applaud when departing Mayor Dougherty was called to the podium for her farewell address. The whole audience stood, but the senior Mr. Young did nor budge. And when the speech was over the audience again stood to pay their respects to this woman who worked tirelessly for the City of Frederick for four years. This time, former Mayor Young did stand, but slowly and only after everyone else were on their feet."

Clearly, Ms. Patterson did not witness this event or was less than alert. Very few people rose to their feet when Jennifer Dougherty arrived at the podium. Most stood and applauded when she exited. I am sure that some people stood because they were supporters. Others stood because she finally gave other people credit and did not criticize her opponents. Even more stood because they were "following the crowd."

We neither stood nor applauded because it would have been hypocritical. Furthermore, leaders don't follow. If Ms. Patterson has incorrect information about this minor detail, how much of the rest of her analysis and accusations are faulty?

I can't speak for Ron, but I will tell you my own reason for not standing and applauding for Jennifer Dougherty. I have very little respect for her. >From the early days of the campaign she started the primary off on a negative track by calling Ron "misinformed" or a downright "liar."

I spent countless hours doing research with primary sources and discovered that it was Ms. Dougherty that had an abundance of incorrect information. Her allegation that Ron was in the "Black Book" was the lowest accusation that I've ever witnessed publicly. Someday I may forgive it but I will never forget it.

Subsequent to the primary, she worked very hard to defeat Ron. We have numerous first hand reports of this effort. Yes, she may have worked hard during her administration, but she didn't work smart. In my estimation, she worked in circles and failed to delegate. That doesn't deserve a standing ovation.

Her departing speech was decent. In fact, it was better than I expected. I can not excuse four years of mismanagement because of a 20-minute speech. Ron, the people sitting next to us, and I were polite and silent but seated as were the people behind us when Allen Imhoff and Paul Smith were sworn in (and I respect their right to do so.)

During the election, Ron asked me not to write about these matters. He said that it was inevitable that it would be twisted to reflect back on him negatively. I see that he was right about that based on the "fall-out" he has unjustifiably received from the Ding Dong ad.

That includes a sarcastic and anonymous email about the way he raised his son. It is very difficult to stand by silently when you know that such a gentle, kind-hearted, caring and honest individual is being maligned so unfairly, particularly when he has given so much to this community and only desires to give back even more.

Karen Lewis, Frederick

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