Kai Hagen is a candidate for Frederick County Council at-large. The primary election is June 26.
Why are you running for office?
To work for Frederick County’s Future: Vibrant. Affordable. Sustainable! Local government is us, working together, in a highly ethical, fully transparent, well-managed, efficient and effective manner that reflects the concerns of everyone in our community. I am committed to excellent public education, genuine Smart Growth principles, affordable housing, forward-looking economic development, environmental protection and preserving our agricultural landscape and rural communities.
What's the biggest issue facing Frederick County? How would you address it?
Frederick County is a wonderful place to live. We have much to celebrate and significant problems and real threats to address. Growth and development affect everything. Rapidly growing communities face serious challenges, which can easily exacerbate many existing problems (school overcrowding, traffic congestion, sprawl, inadequate and too-expensive infrastructure, public health and safety issues). But if planned and managed properly, utilizing smart growth principles, we can convert these challenges into genuine opportunities and maintain a thriving and resilient economy, protect our environment and rural communities and enrich our quality of life. But that doesn’t and won’t happen by accident!
What changes, if any, would you propose if elected?
If we’re going to be and remain a thriving, healthy and equitable community, while facing rapid technological and economic changes, a growing, aging and more diverse population, local and global environmental threats, etc., we must anticipate and understand these challenges. Local government has to prepare and plan for them. We have to be informed, nimble and innovative. With limited time and resources, we can’t continue to act as if each problem exists in isolation. We must take a more integrated and systemic approach to problem-solving and planning. Our future prosperity depends on it.
What is one thing you would do differently from other challengers?
I hope a majority of the council have enough in common to agree about proper process, work well together and get things done for our community. I’d bring a lot of knowledge about Frederick County, county government and the issues we face to the council. But that knowledge and experience would be infused with enthusiasm and creativity, combined with a systemic approach to problem solving that gets at the root of recurring problems that have eluded effective solutions. Too often, our easy or quick “solutions” to individual issues create new problems. The council needs someone with that perspective and approach.
How do you plan on working with people with views different from your own?
As a council member, you’re one of seven, where it takes at least four finding agreement to get anything done. As a commissioner, I was one of only two Democrats, and yet I was on the winning side of most significant policy and budget votes. That happened because we didn’t treat local issues as partisan issues and were committed to a responsible, thorough, information-based process to examine problems and solutions. We’ll have different perspectives, and disagreements about policies, but if most of the council members put the community and good process first, we’ll work together and get things done.
This questionnaire was edited for length.