M.C. Keegan-Ayer’s political career started — almost literally — in her own backyard.
Today, she is the president of the Frederick County Council.
But in the 1990s, she was president of the homeowners association in her west Frederick neighborhood when she learned about a proposal to develop the woods behind her family’s home into a dense community.
She found that the schools in the wouldn’t be able to handle the increase in students from the development, she said, and was part of a movement that stopped the project.
With young children at home, she stayed out of politics for a while, then got involved in advocating for new playground equipment at Waverley Elementary School, where her children attended.
She pushed for the county to build a new Frederick High School. In 2013, she urged the county and Frederick County Public Schools to reduce the number of portable classrooms at Hillcrest Elementary and move up the construction of Butterfly Ridge Elementary School on the city’s west side.
It's a history of work she highlights in her re-election campaign.
On her campaign website, she focuses more on biography and background than on specific issues or policies she would pursue in her next term, other than that she hopes to continue the county's successes.
Keegan-Ayer was elected to the county’s first County Council in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. She is seeking a third term in District 3.
Through her two terms, she feels it’s a role that fits her.
“My strength is legislative process,” she said.
She’ll face Jazmin Di Cola in the July 19 Democratic primary. Former Frederick Alderwoman Shelley Aloi is the only Republican in the race.
Keegan-Ayer said one of the main things she hears when talking to constituents is a concern about traffic, which she said affects every neighborhood in her district.
People are in a hurry and just don’t think to slow down, she said.
She also hears concerns about how businesses will do coming out of the pandemic.
Businesses want to know what the county’s rules are, then be able to get help if they’re having problems meeting them, she said.
There’s also a strong desire for a library in the district, she said, although the city and the county have different views on where it should be located.
Keegan-Ayer said she thinks the county government works better under the charter form of government than with previous form with a Board of Commissioners.
Having a district lets her address concerns from a specific area that she doesn’t see being addressed by the city or county, and lets residents in that area have a spokeswoman, she said.
But even though she prefers charter government, the first council that made the transition was a struggle, she said. It had to create rules and guidelines from scratch.
“It was definitely a learning cure for the first four years,” Keegan-Ayer said.
If re-elected, she would face a term limit at the end of her third term, which she said is fine with her.
After 12 years, she believes she will have helped make the policies and rules of the council as strong as they can be.
With two of her Democratic council colleagues running for county executive, Keegan-Ayer said she had numerous people who had watched her advocate for change for years encourage her to run herself.
But she declined, because at the end of the day, she still feels a passion for the process of legislation.
“I love finding a legislative solution to a problem,” she said.