With a shoutout to family, friends and colleagues, Alderman Michael O’Connor on Friday became the first person to publicly declare plans to run for mayor of Frederick this year.
“While I believe that Frederick has made progress in many areas, the lack of a comprehensive vision for the city makes that progress disparate and unfocused,” the two-term Democratic alderman said at a reception at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center, before revealing his plans to seek the mayoral seat.
“There is a perceived lack of urgency, a sense that all priorities, all neighborhoods, all residents don’t get the same attention,” he continued. “I want to change that. For Frederick to move forward, we must move forward together. So today, I announce my candidacy for mayor of the city of Frederick.”
The mayor and all five aldermen are up for re-election for the four-year term that begins in 2018. A primary election is slated for Sept. 12, followed by the general election Nov. 7.
Mayor Randy McClement, a Republican, has remained mum on whether he plans to seek re-election and declined to comment on the subject again Friday.
Another well-known name in the rumor mill for a possible mayoral bid is former Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine. A Democrat, Dine most recently retired as U.S. Capitol Police chief in August 2015.
Dine attended O’Connor’s reception Friday, but stayed noncommittal when asked about a potential run for mayor. He said he is “flattered that people have raised the issue,” but he has not made a decision.
Another more likely candidate for the office is former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty, owner of Magoo’s Pub and Eatery in Frederick. Dougherty said Friday she is “99 percent sure” she will run for office and forecast a formal announcement in the future.
The Democrat served one term as mayor after winning the 2001 election against two-term Republican incumbent Jim Grimes. Her subsequent bids for re-election were unsuccessful. She lost in the Democratic primaries in 2005 and 2009, and in the general election in 2013, when she ran as an independent.
O’Connor was elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2013.
O’Connor’s roomful of supporters at Friday’s event included Alderwoman Kelly Russell, a fellow Democrat, who introduced him and spoke highly of his accomplishments.
Phyllis Hane, the city’s legislative clerk, said Russell, seeking re-election, is the only person who has officially filed to run for city office so far.
The filing period for mayor and alderman for the upcoming four-year term kicked off Tuesday and will run through July 3.
Democratic Alderman Josh Bokee, who also attended O’Connor’s event Friday, said he is still considering a run for re-election, but has not decided yet. He said he will decide for sure over the next few months, but confirmed he will not seek another office.
Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, the board’s other Democrat, and Alderman Phil Dacey, the board’s only Republican, did not return calls for comment on their plans Friday afternoon.
All of the sitting aldermen except Dacey still have active campaign finance accounts, according to a database on the city’s website.
Kris Fair, chairperson of The Frederick Center, opened an account on Dec. 5, and has said he is contemplating a run for alderman. A Democrat, Fair said last month he opened a campaign account to see if his potential bid for elected office is realistic. He said Friday that he plans to issue a press release on the matter soon.
The Frederick Center describes itself as an advocacy organization for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and their allies.
Roger Wilson, Frederick County’s director of government affairs, also opened a campaign account with the city in July. He confirmed last month that he plans to run for city office this year, but at the time had not committed to a race. He did not return a call for comment Friday afternoon.
Former Alderwoman Shelley Aloi (R) and Derek Shackelford (D) also still have open campaign accounts. Shackelford ran for alderman in 2013, while Aloi made a bid for mayor.