From the cry of “hooah” with which he began his remarks to repeated use of the word “daggone,” Republican Danny Farrar made good on his promise of an untraditional campaign announcement.
Farrar will seek one of the two at-large seats on the Frederick County Council in the 2018 election. He kicked off his campaign Saturday at an event in downtown Frederick before a crowd of family, friends and fellow Republicans. Sen. Michael Hough (R-District 4) and Delegates Bill Folden (R) and David Vogt (R) were on-hand, as were Republican candidates Regina Williams and Craig Giangrande, who have entered the 2018 races for county executive and state senator, respectively.
Farrar, 38, is a U.S. Army veteran and co-founder of the SoldierFit chain of fitness centers. He has also been a vocal advocate for veterans services, particularly mental health issues, and openly discussed his own suicide attempt.
Farrar on Saturday drew upon his military and business experience to frame his candidacy, highlighting his opposition to government regulations.
He had no problems navigating the county’s permitting process to start a Frederick location of his gym. But he struggled with regulations in other counties.
“We’ve experienced what it’s like when places aren’t open for business,” he said. “And Frederick could be headed the exact same way.”
He cited the challenges of several existing business owners who faced roadblocks related to the county’s permitting and zoning requirements. He referenced Bussard Brothers Landscaping Supply, which was found earlier this year to be operating a outside of the county’s zoning ordinance. The company’s property is split between two zones, one of which does not allow the mulching activities central to its business.
Farrar said the company should be “grandfathered in,” or allowed to continue its business under the existing zoning code. He also said he’d spoken to other aspiring entrepreneurs who never tried to open in Frederick because they anticipated similar regulatory challenges.
“I fought for this county, and I do not believe that at any point in time, a citizen or business should be afraid of their government,” he said.
Although minimal governmental interference is an emphasis among Republicans, Farrar said he was different from the “traditional brand of conservatism.”
“Conservatism should not be synonymous with hate,” he said.
He criticized current council members on both sides of the aisle for engaging in petty personal attacks rather than making policies that serve their constituents. He acknowledged that as one of seven on the council, he could not change others’ behaviors or attitudes.
But, he said, “I have found that if you take the time to listen, really listen, not with the purpose of rebuttal ... then you can get somewhere,” he said.
He continued, “You compromise on issues without comprising on your morals.”
Farrar previously contemplated running to represent District 4 in Maryland’s House of Delegates. He cited desire to spend time with his family — he and his wife have a 2-year-old daughter — as reason why he opted for a local position instead.
Asked why he chose to run for an at-large seat — he currently lives in Frederick County’s fifth district, which spans the northern part of the county — he answered that he thought he could represent the varying interests countywide. Councilman Kirby Delauter (R) currently represents District 5 but will seek the county executive office in 2018.
The County Council consists of seven members, five elected based on geographic districts and two at-large. They serve four-year terms and currently earn $22,500 annually.
The 2018 primary election is on June 26, and the general election follows on Nov. 6.