Name: M.C. Keegan-Ayer
Political party: Democrat
Where you live: Frederick County
Current occupation and employers (may also list up to two previous jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: County Council members for District 3. Spent 10 years working on Capitol Hill — first as a legislative assistant, then as the legislative director for members of Congress, then as a lobbyist.
Political experience (public offices held and when; as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years; do not include political party positions): Have held the current seat for eight years (2014-current). Before this, I had never run for political office.
1 – Why are you running for the County Council? (75 words max)
I love Frederick County. It is my home and I want it to be the absolutely best place it can be — a place where people want to live, work, play, raise their families and grow old; a place where people look out for each other and want the best for everyone; a place where everyone feels welcome, included and valued. The kind of place we are all proud to call home.
2 – What is the most important issue in this race? How specifically would you address it? (100 words max)
The main issue continues to be growth — how we balance growth with the needs of the residents; how we balance growth with efforts to improve the educational opportunities provided to all our students; how we balance growth with our transportation needs; how that growth is controlled so that it doesn’t overwhelm the county’s public safety systems; how we balance growth that is necessary to stay vibrant, providing employment opportunities for our residents, so they don’t have to drive long distances for a job, while still protecting our farms and agricultural industries and our bucolic vistas.
3 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this position? (100 words max)
Worked on Capitol Hill for 10 years, first as a legislative assistant, then as legislative director for members of Congress, then as a lobbyist. I have been actively involved in advocacy efforts for over 25 years as a mother of students in the school system advocating for additional capacity for overcrowded schools, and equity within the educational programs and opportunities being offered. This advocacy made me aware of the impact that growth is having on our entire way of life in the county. This level of awareness and concern is what drove me to run for office.
4 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly? What would you have done differently? (100 words max)
I think the council has done a good job of balancing the needs and priorities of all county residents, both in the legislation that has been advanced and in the budgets approved. If I were to choose one item the council needs to improve, I would say communications. We need to find better ways to communicate with the public. Despite all our changes and improvements in communications over the past eight years, it is clear from the comments we receive there are still some people in our community who are unaware of the council’s activities and actions.
5 – What do you think of the county's goal of preserving 100,000 acres of farmland by 2040? (100 words max)
I think it is a laudable and entirely attainable goal. We frequently hear about the importance of preserving our agricultural sector, and helping farmers find ways to save their farms for future generations is certainly important. This council voted to raise the recordation tax, specifying that a certain amount of that additional money would be used for the farm preservation programs. It is this additional money that will ensure we can reach that goal of 100,00 acres before 2040.
6 – How well does the county do at attracting new businesses and significant employers? What should the county do? (100 words max)
I think we are doing a fantastic job attracting new businesses and significant employers. We provide specific tax incentives depending on the needs of the company. We provide fast track permitting to get the permits needed. We have incredible outreach and retention programs and processes to ensure they have ongoing support until they get up and running successfully. Sometimes, an initial business concept is just not a good fit for Frederick County, but we always try to leave the door open for a modification of plans, so they can always try again.
7 – What do you think of the Livable Frederick Master Plan? How should the county grow in population and development? (100 words max)
I served on the steering committee for the plan, so perhaps I am somewhat biased, but I think it is an incredible, and might I add, award-winning plan. It changed the way that counties and now even the state plans for growth. It is a totally different way of looking at how Frederick County will grow over the next 30 to 50 years and is truly visionary. It allows for growth in certain designated specified areas while keeping other areas of the county rural, agricultural or resource conservation.
8 – Do you support a plan to widen interstates 270 and 495 and add tolls? Why or why not? (100 words max)
The traffic on 495 and lower 270 has been a problem for many years. We need an innovative and comprehensive solution. There is a bottleneck in northern Montgomery County/southern Frederick County, as all the lanes on 270 narrow to two just past the exit for Clarksburg. Additional lanes could be part of the solution to the upper portion of 270 as it comes into Frederick County, whether those are lanes running down the middle reserved for one-way traffic depending on morning or evening rush hours for HOV and buses or using the current shoulders in a similar manner.
9 – How well is the county caring for a rapidly growing population of older residents? How would you address future needs? (100 words max)
We are doing better with the extensive outreach of our Senior Services Division, through the many programs and services they offer, both in person and online. We are also tailoring more of our Parks and Rec programs to our active seniors, with options such as pickleball, our extensive selection of walking trails, and specific exercise programs just for seniors. We just need to remember that many of our seniors are not as comfortable with technology as some of us and we need to make sure we are not leaving folks out with how we share information.
10 – Has the county spent its money wisely? Give specific examples. (100 words max)
I believe the county has spent its money wisely. We have hired more than 200 additional firefighters; we have hired additional EMTs, 911 call takers and additional deputies, so that our overall emergency response is much better than it was before the change of government. We have built an impressive number of new schools and additions to address capacity needs. We are addressing the needs of seniors, and we added over 100 new businesses and thousands of jobs in just the past two years, even during the pandemic. The priorities of the residents are being effectively and efficiently addressed.