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The Tentacle


October 28, 2005

Bean Soup Galore

Roy Meachum

They don’t have bean soup. Those other places in Frederick suffer more than a food shortage. They also lack the buzz of political activities that infest Memorial Park every elections day; the advocates waving their candidates’ signs at cars passing by.

And in the course of writing about the most fundamental democratic exercise this republic has to offer, my trusty Trek bike and I have made the circuit.

The bean soup quite aside, the Armory would remain the only “real” polling place to me because it was the first and, for several years after 1984, the only place I checked off my choices, as ordered by the official postcard sent out several weeks before.

Otherwise, I was exiled to North Frederick Elementary, a far more antiseptic atmosphere by far, where desks, booths and gracious volunteers did nothing to dissuade the notion that I was simply in the wrong place. More recently – and presumably now permanently – I have been consigned to what appears a back room set in the side of the new C. Burr Artz Library

Climbing the stairs that are remembered as cluttered with construction material, at least I had company the last time around. Pat Kelly also lives on North Market Street’s “wrong” side. We shared the feeling that the powers-that-be were treating us as stepchildren, consigned to the outside looking in, our electoral noses pasted to municipal windows, watching Frederick’s “real” citizens climb the ramp at the corner of Second and Bentz streets.

Not this Tuesday.

Maybe because it’s All Saints’ Day, for whatever reason, our despised section of downtown has been allowed to approach the building that towers above Baker Park. For another brief moment we can actually believe we are counted as grown-ups in Frederick’s electoral world. We were allowed the same sensation in September’s primaries.

Pushkin must still be tied to the iron rail outside the double-doors; gone are those halcyon days when the English pointer was permitted to cheer up volunteers and voters alike, drawing friendly nods from the church ladies and occasional gentleman who for the occasion sling hash and my favored bean soup, weather allowing. Some election Tuesday mornings have toasted off so early that iced tea was in order.

Come clouds or sun, cold or heat, my best four-legged best friend has been denied the privileges awarded other American-born creatures but only those with a pair of legs. Still Pushkin is proud to perform his civic duty by accompanying me to the door of wherever the impersonal postcard orders my person to appear.

In another regard this Tuesday will be no different than all those other municipal races over the years. I will step up to the voting machine uncertain about which exactly five candidates I wish to fill the Board of Aldermen. Several are usually certain in my mind; the difficulty comes in filling out the list. On some occasions, in sheer frustration, I join the no-shows when the tally is made.

Being no Moses Maimonides I cannot pretend to provide a guide for the perplexed, especially since I remain perplexed myself, but allow me to proffer observations on the admirable women and men who have offered themselves up for public approval, hoping for a seat on the board.

In alphabetical order:

Ken Berlin has formed the strongest positive newcomer impression on me.

Marcia Hall has taken over Joe Baldi’s former domain, as the nicest “guy” among incumbents.

Joanne Ivancic made history by putting the Green Party on a Frederick ballot the first time; her winning can-do spirit might surprise.

“Kip” Koontz paid his dues as an activist, as many people know.

Donna Kuzemchak-Ramsburg contributed very heavily to the fractious turmoil of the current board.

Tom Slater made few enemies while achieving status as the grand old man of county Democratic politics. The question he faces: Will that be enough?

Samie Conyers deserves consideration on a number of accounts. He is, moreover, a likable human being.

Democrat-turned-Republican Alan Imhoff stacks up as the by-far best qualified contestant, not excluding the pair of incumbents seeking re-election.

James Joyce and Randy McClement remain both completely unknown to me. Mr. Joyce sent a single mailing. From Mr. McClement, zip. Presumably they have better informed other voters.

Paul Smith achieved notoriety that lifted him above the pack when his past observations were quoted in order to prove him a homophobe, which he and his supporters strongly deny.

Exactly which five get my vote will be finally decided over a bowl of my favorite Election Day fare. With the weather people calling for a rainy, cool Tuesday, there should be Methodist bean soup galore, for those of us privileged to vote in the Armory, at least.

If you’re interested, check Sunday’s News-Post for my appraisal of the mayoral contest.



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