Councilman Tony Chmelik (R) noted that constituents, especially critics, are quick to label him as pro-developer and pro-business.
But neither development nor business were what Chmelik considered platform issues in his bid for re-election. Instead, the 50-year-old Ijamsville resident named roads, schools and support for the Frederick County Sheriff's Office as his top priorities if elected for a second term to represent District 2 on the Frederick County Council.
Chmelik highlighted the county's funding of Frederick County Public Schools, which has been above the minimum required maintenance of effort level for the last three years, as a success of the current administration. In fact, funding for school projects, facilities and teachers is one of the "rare" topics where Chmelik said he agreed with County Executive Jan Gardner (D).
Chmelik acknowledged he has been critical of Gardner, although he emphasized that his criticism was not a personal attack.
"Being critical does not mean I am out to get her," Chmelik said. "I want to hold her feet to the fire."
The blame for what he perceives as county overspending lies not only with Gardner, but with the council, too, he said.
"This council has, in my opinion, failed, when it comes to actually being a check and balance on the budget," he said.
Chmelik named the increases in county staffing levels and funding for other government departments as examples of overspending. Asked which departments he thought received too much money, he said all of them.
But Chmelik pledged support for the Frederick County Sheriff's Office programs, namely its efforts to prevent and combat heroin abuse. That support might come with accompanying dollars, he acknowledged.
Chemlik also wasn't opposed to more funding on certain infrastructure projects, naming Md. 75 as a top priority based on current safety concerns.
Chmelik pointed to his experience as a longtime small-business owner — he owns a construction contracting company — as an advantage he brings to the dais. While government revenue and spending differs from business finances, the principles of organization and leadership — "keeping an organization above water" — hold true for both.
Being in business also requires collaboration, an attitude Chmelik has carried to the council by working with other council members on legislation. He named several examples, including revisions to the county's Forest Resource Ordinance, which he and Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D) introduced after working with community representatives; and reintroduction of a bill that would establish a local veterans advisory council, sponsored by council President Bud Otis (unaffiliated) with input from him and council Vice President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D).
Chmelik will face fellow Republican candidate Steve McKay, former president of RALE (Residents Advocating for Land use and the Environment, formerly Residents Against Landsdale Expansion), in the primary. Democrat Lisa Jarosinski will also vie for the seat to represent District 2, which spans the southeast portion of the county including Libertytown, Monrovia, New Market, and portions of Urbana and Mount Airy.
Council members 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.