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The Tentacle


December 8, 2009

New City Hall

Roy Meachum

Before my next TheTentacle.com column appears, City Hall goes through its shakeup, ordered by voters. This does not include Jeff Holtzinger; the current mayor, on his own, decided four years were enough. He’s being replaced Thursday by fellow Republican Randy McClement. This is not the way things were supposed to work.

 

Pushing aside the substantial majority enjoyed by Democrats, a number of Republicans told me they could not support the GOP candidate because he would “do no work.” It turns out they were overwhelmed by voters from the other party. Practicing the most potent sentiment in elections – to vote against – they ganged up on Jason Judd, rejecting him for being “un-Frederick,” complaining he had come to town to quick-start his political career. It didn’t matter that Mr. Judd was raised here, a graduate of Thomas Johnson High.

 

During the run-up to the general elections and my columns, friends warned that Mr. McClement was the apple of the eye for conservative Democrats; names mentioned: Beverly Byron and James McClellan, respectively the long-time congresswoman and the political boss when I first moved to Frederick, in1983.

 

Ms. Byron was known to be tutor and advisor of former mayor Jennifer Dougherty whom Mr. Judd upended in the primary. As for Dr. McClellan, he may no longer to be able to dictate who could run for political office. But the veterinarian has a number of people whose ear he still possesses. After losing the election, Mr. Judd said he had been advised that he should check with “Doc;” he decided not to. Considering he lost by less than 300 votes, the Democratic candidate should have dropped the dime on both community stalwarts. On the other hand, it may have done him absolutely no good.

 

The “agin” sentiment was very strong and, as far as I can tell, was based generally on his differences, notably his work for a union. “They” also did not care for the clothes he wore and his Cambodian wife. Verbal sketches made Mr. Judd’s appearance sound like Ichabod Crane, he of the headless horseman in Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” But he rode a bike, I heard from folks shaking their heads and saying sotto voce: What kind of mayor would he be?

 

I totally missed all these indices, blinded by other signs. Now we will see how much of a hands-on mayor Randy McClement will be.

 

As for the board of aldermen, I saw how four Democrats and GOP adherent Shelley Aloi triumphed; she’s a bright and eager-to-learn lady. I was mildly disappointed that Republican Paul Smith was not returned to the board, but voters decided they wanted to sweep all officials out of City Hall. And that’s democracy.

 

Carol Krimm and Michael O’Connor basically bring to the board “the right stuff.” She must demonstrate independence from Del. Galen Clagett, her longtime employer; it’s okay to make his friends hers, but she does not need his enemies. As for incoming Alderman O’Connor, in his first elected office he presents a blank slate on which he can write his own history.

 

First reports say Kelly Russell is shaping up as a team player, in all the best sense of that phrase; my problem with her was that as a police lieutenant she very much toed a line laid down by Harold Domer, and his wife Barbara. It’s good to hear, having slid onto the board, she brought a different face and attitude. We’ll see.

 

A lot of peoples would like to think Karen Lewis Young won election because she is married to a former mayor Ron Young, but he could tell the world that’s not how it was. She’s ferociously protective about her independence. She’s both intelligent and smart.

 

I hope the new mayor’s reluctance to take up the burdens of his office prove untrue, but – if that rumor holds true – Ms. Young will have no hesitation in taking up the chores. In electing her, city voters bought more than they bargained for.

 



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