Frederick's new leadership will look much like its former leadership, with many priorities and initiatives carried over from the last administration to the new one that was sworn in Thursday at the Weinberg Center for the Arts.

The ceremony was a blend of the old and the new, with the mayor and four-fifths of the Board of Aldermen returning for another term as the city's leaders.

“We have achieved so much together, overcome so much together, and look forward to new opportunities for the city of Frederick together,” Mayor Michael O'Connor said in a speech, citing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, significant flooding downtown in 2018, demands for racial justice and other challenges and opportunities that the city's leadership faced over the past four years.

Incumbent aldermen Kelly Russell, Donna Kuzemchak, Derek Shackelford and Ben MacShane were each sworn in for their new terms, while newcomer Katie Nash was sworn in for her first term.

Nash, the top vote-getter in November's election, was unanimously elected President Pro Tem of the board by her colleagues.

Outgoing alderman Roger Wilson, who lost to O'Connor in a September Democratic primary for mayor, was not at Thursday's ceremony.

Nash said in an email she is looking forward to working with the mayor and her colleagues to expand opportunities for public engagement in the city and to look at safety improvements for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and transit.

“We have an immediate opportunity to strengthen the city's position as the largest municipality in Frederick County, second largest in Maryland, and an economic engine in the D.C. metro area,” she said.

Russell said she also planned to look at pedestrian and roadway safety in the new term and how to make the city's roads and sidewalks safe for all users.

She said developing the new police headquarters the city recently purchased on East All Saints Street will be a key priority, as will continuing the previous board's work on issues such as diversity, inclusion and equity.

Many of the previous board's initiatives have only been partly accomplished, MacShane said, citing things such as diversity and inclusion policies, combating climate change and the city's role in housing as examples.

The city's priorities for the upcoming budget need to focus on continued recovery from the pandemic as well as providing stability and access to opportunity for people who have suffered during the crisis, Shackelford said.

The city needs to work on developing partnerships with organizations to help it accomplish the things it can't on its own, he said.

Kuzemchak said she'll be looking closely at the upcoming budget to make sure there are priorities for things like sustainability, equality, flood control and ensuring funding for the new police headquarters and Westside Regional Park.

In an interview in his office Wednesday night, O'Connor said he also expects much of the body's work to build on the work done the last four years and looking at how they can expand economic opportunity to all parts of the city.

The pandemic has put a new emphasis on how the city delivers services, he said, and he praised the job of the city's workforce over the past 21 months.

“I didn't get us through the pandemic, they got us through the pandemic,” he said.

When they took office four years ago, neither he nor the aldermen could have foreseen the pandemic that would so dramatically impact the last two years, he said.

There have clearly been projects that have been delayed or slowed, the mayor said, citing the downtown hotel project as something he thought would be further along without the toll the pandemic took on the hospitality industry.

“For me, it's the mystery of the unknown,” O'Connor said.

The city was recently cited by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments as the second-fastest growing municipality in the Washington, D.C., region, and O'Connor said managing that growth responsibly will be a key job for he and the aldermen over the next four years.

It will mean ensuring adequate water and sewer capacity, transportation infrastructure and working with the county to ensure school capacity, among other things.

While some people may view the challenges of growth differently, “We all want the same thing,” O'Connor said. “It doesn't look the same to everyone. But we want the same thing.”

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(6) comments

artandarchitecture

I searched FNP for Alderman "Kelly Russell" to see if there was any FNP coverage/info on Saturday night's Antifa scuffle outside the home:

WATCH: Maryland ‘Antifa’ Defund Police Protest Leads to Scuffle

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/12/13/watch-maryland-antifa-defund-police-protest-leads-to-scuffle/

micky

Four more years of same ole, same ole!!

niceund

A brand new member is President Pro Tem?

Look out Frederick, you're in for a bumpy ride. Good luck.

Dwasserba

She’s been an alderman before.

kfmd

No she hasn't. Katie is first term.

kfmd

Well with any luck she won’t be as contentious and divisive as the outgoing president pro tem.

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