Susan Reeder Jessee is a candidate for Frederick County Council at-large. The primary election is June 26.
Why are you running for office?
I have a deep desire to serve the citizens and give back to a community that has been so good to me. My knowledge and years of experience in many of the tough issues facing the county provides the solid foundation necessary when making decisions that affect the citizens and businesses of this county. This includes economic development, business development, strategic planning and budgeting experience along with scientific expertise. My husband has owned a small business in the City of Frederick for 33 years, so I also understand the issues small business owners face on a daily basis.
What's the biggest issue facing Frederick County? How would you address it?
When a company looks to locate their business in a region, the things they look for are good schools, good roads, safe neighborhoods, a quality workforce, affordable housing options and a great quality of life. To be competitive it takes planning, and one of the biggest issues right now is the amount of growth that has occurred. As a project manager, I believe a check and balance system must be in place and understand that if growth is managed effectively, everyone will benefit in the end. Moving forward, I know all the players involved in growth care, and I believe we should sit down and work together to achieve the balance everyone wants and needs.
What changes, if any, would you propose if elected?
The charter was written as a skeleton document that was meant to be amended and changed over time. Change creates transformation and I believe there needs to be further definition of the county council so that it can operate as a separate entity from the executive branch. Providing the council more access to county staff in certain situations at times helps the council member address critical issues for their constituents in a timely fashion. I would also propose that the council meetings be moved to 7 p.m. so that they are more convenient for county citizens and businesses that want to attend.
What is one thing you would do differently from other challengers?
I would focus on the most critical needs that directly impact our citizen’s lives on a daily basis like providing food and services to our senior population, solutions to overcome school overcrowding short and long term, providing our first responders the staffing and tools they need to keep themselves and our citizens safe, treating the opioid/heroin epidemic as the disease it is, initiatives to bring better paying jobs to Frederick County and preserving our farmland and surroundings for everyone to enjoy for generations to come.
How do you plan on working with people with views different from your own?
I have spent decades working together with a wide variety of people locally, and from all over the world. We find common ground, address issues, solve problems by working together, and I would bring this ability to compromise to the council. Effective communication is vital, and I have always been able to have constructive conversations with anyone, with the mindset of focusing more on what brings us together versus what divides us. I am committed to listening and representing ALL Frederick County citizens and businesses on issues that are important to them.
This questionnaire has been edited for length.