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Elect Virginia Fifer

2006 Frederick County Candidates For Elected Office

July 31, 2006

Campaign Journal 2006 - Part Two

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

The campaign kickoff event was a perfect beginning. Nothing went as planned, but the outcome was perfect!

I had planned to hold my announcement at the Square Corner Park in downtown Brunswick. The Brunswick Main Street group, which shares space in my district office, had planned a First Friday event for the same evening.

I had coordinated my announcement in such a way as to avoid any conflicts with their activities. I timed my speech to end just before the professional magician began, thinking that I'd benefit from having many of my friends and neighbors already downtown because of the event.

Likewise, the folks coming into town because of my announcement would be able to enjoy the late shopping and entertainment.

Fearing an unforeseen complication, I checked in with the mayor at City Hall. Receiving no negative feedback, I proceeded to spend a sizeable amount on a half-page ad in the local paper touting my announcement and the Main Street event.

The Thursday morning prior to the Friday event, and after the ad had already run, the Main Street manager indicated that there might be a problem with combining the political and non-political events. According to her, there is an "unwritten" policy regarding the use of the park. Oh, joy, my favorite form of local regulation, the infamous unwritten policy.

So, I had to move my announcement event out of the park. A friend and outstanding Brunswick businessman, Bill Sims, the owner of Antiques n' Ol' Stuff, allowed me to set up my little show in front of his store (old timers will remember it as People's Home and Auto).

Fortunately, Bill's store is just a few short steps from the park. I had an excellent turnout, and former delegate and County Commissioner President Anita Stup made some introductory remarks. Anita has a reputation as a very popular public servant, one who always attended to her constituent service work.

She's also one of the few politicians I know who left at the top of her game, not waiting until time and "what have you done for me lately" to take its toll. Her advice has been invaluable to me over the years.

I had a great turnout, especially from other sitting and aspiring politicians. Saving a mention of BOCC candidates until later, State's Attorney candidate Charlie Smith was there, accompanied by his ever-present campaign photographer. Charlie has the knack for working a crowd; he functions like an old pro. Sheriff candidate Chuck Jenkins sent word that he had a work-related conflict, but would have been there had he been able.

Now the county commissioner candidates were another thing entirely. Incumbent Commissioners Mike Cady and Jon Lovell were in attendance. Standing near them in the crowd were challengers Dick Floyd and Kai Hagen. Billy Shreve, another GOP commissioner candidate, was also there.

So, I had two incumbent Republican commissioners and two Democrat challengers at my event. There were no specific invitations sent out, although the ad made it clear that everyone was invited.

I couldn't help but wonder what these candidates were thinking, standing together at the announcement for a state delegate, but standing so far apart ideologically.

Continuing the theme, Mayor Jeff Holtzinger traveled over from Frederick, and Brunswick Mayor Carroll Jones was also in attendance. Again, a Democrat mayor standing alongside a Republican mayor. Seems like a trend emerging here!

Two of my good friends in the Frederick delegation, Patrick Hogan and David Brinkley, were also there. Patrick and I compare notes daily during session. Our relationship is such that I share my 12 years of local government experience, and Patrick helps me with things through the eyes of someone who isn't jaded by years of frustration and disappointment.

Since the announcement, things have gone so much better than four years ago, I'm getting paranoid. The Burkittsville Ruritan Carnival was amazing, with more offers for sign locations in one place than anywhere else in the district.

Frankly, if I put a sign in every yard that was offered, I'd use a third of the total of the signs we've ordered. Needless to say, when we reach our big sign distribution day, the Burkittsville area will be more than covered.

If four years ago is any indication, I'll need to reserve extras. My signs disappeared at an alarming rate, but every candidate suffers that same dilemma. Just something you have to allow for.

Burkittsville and Urbana both held carnivals during the same week, so there were plenty of hands to shake and hugs to exchange. Most rewarding are the expressions of support form strangers, folks who I didn't even know were paying attention.

My favorite political phenomenon is the statement "you're the only Republican I'd ever vote for." If I had a dime for every time I've heard that, I could buy a summer's worth of carnival dinners.

I've been working on several big issues in Urbana, both for residents of the older parts of Urbana as well as the newer areas in the Natelli development. Even with that work, I was surprised at how positive the reaction was.

So, now all of the yard signs, highway signs, t-shirts, lapel stickers, and banners have been ordered. It amazes me that we're talking about thousands of dollars in spending to order enough paraphernalia to cover District 3B.

The logo is very simple, but there is a sort of classy look in that simplicity. The theme is set, and while the final brochure design is set, we're waiting to print the final version. Here's a hint on the theme: Weldon Works!

A flood of endorsements that have either been announced or are pending is driving the delay. I know of two I've received, and three others will be released in the next week or two.

Four years ago, I had my brochure printed early, and had to buy a stamp pad to have the endorsements stamped on each brochure. After developing blisters from all that stamping, I decided to wait to include the endorsements on the printed versions.

These endorsements result from surveys, questionnaires, and interviews by special interest groups. Many of these groups require simple "yes" or "no" answers, with no opportunity for an explanation. Others seek commitments or "pledges", like a no-tax pledge or a pledge to raise the cigarette tax by $1 per pack.

I don't sign pledges. It seems like a terrible way to govern. Anyone can check a box on a survey in order to get an endorsement, but a thoughtful public servant recognizes that these issues are too complex to be reduced to a promise.

Other endorsements read like a high school essay test, with 50-100 word answers to the questions. My favorites are the newspaper surveys, where they threaten to cut off an entry if you exceed the word limit.

I've decided to have our signs all go up in a fairly short period of time. We're working now on identifying the locations, and they'll be spread from Kemptown to Knoxville.

I wasn't really in a big hurry to get signs out, especially since I'm already sick of the blight brought on by political signage. If you aren't sick of them, too, give it a few weeks. The only good news is that after another few weeks, they'll start to blend into the background. That is, those signs that aren't stolen by other candidates, anyway.


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