Former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty is a Democratic candidate for mayor.
1. The mayor is responsible for putting together the city’s fiscal budget each year. What do you believe are the three biggest budget priorities? Are there any places where you would insist on more or less spending?
- Public Safety – Promote community policing; expand legal training to minimize risk; place police kiosk on Carroll Creek; place mobile command unit in hotspots
- Measure Results – Ensure projects are on time/budget
- Improve city-county tax differential
- Economic Development – Industry specialist(s) ($150,000), job training/placement
- Bulk trash pick-up ($300,000)
- Code Enforcement Board ($20,000)
- Improve website
- Special projects — Professional internship program (opioid addition) ($200,000), Civilian Conservation Corps (watershed) ($150,000), parking deck rooftop community gardens (grant), permanent home for Farmers’ Market (net zero)
- Hargett Farm/Westside Regional Park – Divide remaining land for public park and possible senior housing (AT LEAST $50 million)
2. Now that the proposed downtown hotel and conference center is in the design phase, with public dollars not slated for construction or operation of the buildings, what are your thoughts on the city investing in the project?
I support the downtown hotel and have opposed public funding, but I won’t block a good project because I don’t like one element. During the approval process, I will make sure city taxpayers know what’s happening and work to protect their interests. I will also make sure the hotel operators work collaboratively with the HPC and Planning Commission. Residents and businesses want the hotel and it will strengthen our economy — including acting as anchor for East Side development.
2A. Yes or no: Do you support demolition of the historic Birely Tannery building or development of the hotel and conference center?
Yes, I accept that the tannery building will likely be demolished to make way for the hotel. I support the inclusion of historic artifacts and the story of Birely Tannery within the new hotel. I’ve seen 1,000-year old castle walls incorporated into new uses in Ireland and slightly newer properties handled well in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Sadly, one of the limitations of holding onto old buildings is money and no organization or individual has come forward to serve as a patron for the tannery.
3. Talks of a downtown grocery store have been circulating for years and recently the owners of Common Market said they were eyeing the former Carmack-Jay’s site on North Market Street for a potential expansion. Is this something you think would be beneficial for downtown Frederick? If so, how would you help bring a grocery store downtown?
Yes, but market forces hold businesses back from making the huge investment to open a grocery. I support appropriate infill and adaptive re-uses of older buildings. More importantly, I will propose a parking deck on the North End. With more potential customers and convenient parking, a grocery store — and other businesses — can be successful. If the Common Market — or any other grocer – wants to invest in the city, I will consider application fee waivers and a fast approval schedule to help minimize start-up costs.
4. There have been ongoing complaints about code enforcement in the city. Some parts of the city are blanketed in citations, others decay into blight. Specific properties are persistent eyesores. What do you plan to do to address these issues?
Be clear, be fair and follow the code. Embrace the help offered by the NACs and watchdog residents who point out problems and address nagging neighborhood issues. Create a Code Enforcement Board to hear cases instead of forcing people to go to court to appeal a violation. Improve technology and transparency to improve tracking and results. Use established laws on condemnation and eminent domain (which I have used successfully) to end the adverse impacts chronic violators have on our city.
5. The lack of affordable housing in the city of Frederick is a common complaint among residents. How would you help address the issue?
Like many problems, we need to define the problem and set measurable goals for success. I will work with the Fair Housing Commission, and Economic Development and Planning departments to assess the current data, forecast growth and recommend a plan to the Board of Aldermen within 90 days. I will propose a plan that increases the city’s affordable housing inventory by 10 percent a year for 10 years by adopting successful strategies used in other communities including: expedited permitting, housing rehabilitation programs, dedicated revenue sources, inclusionary zoning, home buyer assistance programs, and possibly density bonuses.