A former state legislator says he has entered the County Council race to advance the transition to charter government he’s supported since the 1960s.
Galen Clagett, a Democrat who owns the property management firm Clagett Enterprises, filed to run for a County Council at-large seat, noting that he carried petitions for charter home rule decades ago.
“I’ve got a long history of involvement and commitment to charter home rule ... and this is an opportunity for me to see it work and get the Legislature in balance with the executive,” he said.
Clagett said that he saw the Frederick County Council, the legislative branch, as relatively weak compared with the executive. He considered that a normal part of the transition to charter government, he said, adding that he believed that situation played out in Howard County.
He was running for a seat on the council, he said, to help the legislative side expand its role as a separate branch of local government. If elected, he would serve one term and not seek re-election, he said.
While Clagett said his top priority is to “hone the machine” of government, he said he was also focused on environmental issues, education and economic development.
On education, he would like to ensure teacher salaries are well-funded and that public education remains public, as opposed to private schools operating under charter.
To boost economic development, Clagett said he would like to see the Economic Development Commission become a quasi-independent organization consisting mainly of people from the business community. That commission would work closely with county staff to promote business in Frederick County.
Clagett, a state delegate from 2003 to 2015 who served on the Appropriations Committee, said he would like to use his experience in Annapolis to benefit the county.
“I want to work hard to get more money for education,” he said, adding later, “I want to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to maximize the return on everything we invest in.”
Clagett said his experience in the State House and 30 years in business set him apart from other at-large candidates and give him a broad perspective that he believed would be useful if elected to the council.
“Basically what we’re selling here is experience,” Clagett said.
Clagett will face off against several other Democrats in the primary: Kavonte Duckett, Kai Hagen, Susan Reeder Jessee and Mark Long.
The Republicans seeking the office are Philip Dacey, Danny Farrar, Justin Kiska and Jason Miller. Incumbent Bud Otis, a former Republican, has filed to run for re-election as an independent.
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.