Winchester Hall

Winchester Hall

As the first term of the first-ever Frederick County Council winds down, current members discussed what the governing body was able to accomplish in the last four years, along with challenges facing the next council.

Opinions differed along party lines — some Republicans thought the council was unproductive, while Democrats believed they were able to accomplish many objectives.

The one unaffiliated member, council President Bud Otis, noted that organizing the county’s first-ever County Council was a tricky task. He added that strengthening ethics laws in the county was a highlight.

“Ethics, that needed to be redone,” Otis said. “I saw things that needed to be corrected, and we did. ... The lines were not real clear as far as who could do what as far as doing business with the county if you’re an elected official. I wanted to make sure that was clearly defined.”

Otis said another accomplishment was that the council passed a budget all four years. That was also an accomplishment noted by Councilman Jerry Donald (D).

“I know that sounds kind of simple, but we have a pretty short turnaround time on it,” Donald said of passing the budget each year. “And we managed to do it while we kept our bond rating up at a AAA” — the highest possible rating.

Some council members, however, didn’t think the council accomplished much, if anything at all.

That included Republican Councilman Billy Shreve.

“It pretty much was a waste of time over the last four years,” said Shreve, who will not return to the board. “The county executive did not allow the council to operate independently, so we’re no further along as a government than we were on day one.”

The next County Council needs to be more independent of the county executive, he said, in order to research and draft legislation.

Fellow Republican Councilman Kirby Delauter sided with Shreve.

Delauter noted school construction fees and maintaining adequate fire and rescue services as key challenges moving forward.

“When I was on the [previous] Board of County Commissioners, we got more done in one year than this council got done in four,” he said. “This council has been a lame-duck council the entire time.”

Donald and M.C. Keegan-Ayer, however, listed several accomplishments over the past four years: a senior tax credit bill, bringing the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center of Frederick and Montevue Assisted Living facilities back to county control, a new salary scale for the county’s teachers, new elementary schools, all done without raising property tax rates countywide.

“I don’t think it’s any one thing that stands out,” said Keegan-Ayer, the District 3 councilwoman, about the council’s accomplishments. “I think it’s more of a group, a majority of the council working collaboratively with the county executive.”

She added that chemistry between the new council members will be a central challenge moving forward.

“I think anytime you have a new group of people, you also have different personalities,” Keegan-Ayer said. “We all have to find out how we fit together as a group, and how we’re going to work together as a group, to get things accomplished. ... You don’t get seven shrinking violets who will run for County Council.”

The remaining council members, District 2 Councilman Tony Chmelik (R) and District 4 Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D), could not be reached for comment via a phone call or email.

Republicans and Democrats also differed on how much having a new system of government affected the council’s productivity. Shreve said it shouldn’t have mattered.

“It’s pretty freaking basic,” Shreve said of the new charter government. “The council writes the laws, and the county executive runs the day-to-day operations.”

Donald, however, thought differently.

“It’s been an adjustment,” Donald said of charter government. “I mean, we basically had to change forms of government. And that’s no simple thing, because we had to come up with the rules as we went along in it.”

Election Day is Nov. 6, and will be from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at polling places countywide. Candidates elected to the council will be sworn in Dec. 1.

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel.

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(23) comments

weedsinfrederick

Kirby Delauter telling you that you didn't get anything done means you probably did things ethically for the betterment of the County. Frederick County never wants to see again what he was able to "accomplish" with the Blaine Young crowd. Supporting the developers to jam as much high density housing into a cowfield as possible is not an accomplishment. Kirby also didn't understand that we need actual mature leadership on things like infrastructure and roads. I conversed with him several times through his FB page, and he constantly pointed the fingers at others, or said there isn't any road congestion to worry about. Good Riddance Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter.

armillary

[thumbup]

matts853

Ironic to have Bud talking ethics in this article given what's printed directly to the left.

And wasn't it Bud as prior chairman of the ethics committee that ran interference on a then ongoing ethics investigation into Blaine? It's not hard to read between the lines now. Rather than preside over an honest ethics investigation, Bud let Blaine off the hook because he thought he'd be working with him as CE. Bud is a snake.

armillary





Billy was lost without Blaine
and began his pathetic refrain
when asked every day
was his vote "Yea" or "Nay"
he only responded "Abstain."

Nicki

Good one, armillary 😁

neilyoungfan25

Jan Gardner is the one running the County Council, along with her puppets named Fitzwater, Keegan and Donald. Those three probably can’t pull their hands out of their pants without Jan’s permission!

matts853

Sorry, NYF, but you're wrong. Bud Otis demonstrated that a tyrannical council president can unilaterally control the agenda and shut out anyone he wants, including the CE, which he did many times. Jan is well liked and well respected by a majority of citizens. Bud closed the door on them toward the end by blocking critical legislation she introduced. And just look who he ended up siding with on the Council - Billy, Tony, and Kirby - and who supported his campaign at the end - developers and a coalition of unruly landowners unwilling to colloborate with anyone else. So Bud shunned Jan who will be re-elected, and sided was the three bozos on the Council who will be gone. Bad judgement.

Bud has not gone out gracefully.

Burgessdr

Double standard. Buys suburban houses built by developers on farmland then trash talks developers building suburban houses on farmland built for others. The world revolves around you.

trwz

NYF - your language is disgusting.

Dwasserba

"Fellow Republican Councilman Kirby Delauter sided with Shreve." Big surprise. Goodbye.

niceund

Two words: miserable failure.

pappyjoe

I can see why Otis is talking the way he is. The grey goose took over his mind. Kirby on the other hand, is he a backhoe operator owner of business? and with Billy hugging Kirby, what`s his cut? Thinking with different personalities makes that your personal opinion and not that of the public taxpayers.

richardlyons

BS and KD two of a kind. The people have spoken and determined they have better options. We'll know Tony C's fate Tuesday. But I suspect he will join his 2 amigos on the dustbin of history. Good riddance.

DeltaOne

Shreve said "It pretty much was a waste of time over the last four years." You certainly wasted your time, Shreve...because YOU didn't do anything. When your party is in the minority, you have to learn to compromise. You didn't.

Delauter claims the old BOCC "got more done in one year than this council got done in four." He's right...but the things the BOCC got done HARMED the county. This new charter county council, along with Jan Gardner, has done wonders fixing and repairing all the damage done by the former BOCC.

I, and I suspect many others, will not miss Shreve and Delauter being on the county council. Buh-bye!

phoebe0727

Billy Shreve and Kirby Delauter didn't think anything was accomplished. Perhaps that's why they didn't make it past the primary? Womp-womp, fellas!

stillamazed

Things did get accomplished because they didn't get their way. Poor losers. Interested to see what they try to do next; where else can the get paid for doing nothing. They are a joke and should pinch themselves that they even got elected in the first place.

DickD

The two Republicans who along with Chmelik never agreed with the rest are the ones that feels that the Council accomplished nothing,now that is funny
. And all three of them failed to get through the pimary. There is a message for them!

des21

Yes Dick, they were all rejected by Republicans voting in a closed primary because of their extremism and utter uselessness. You Democrats could learn a thing or two from us.[wink]

phydeaux994

des, I have noticed you don't comment much after school is out. Probably too busy huh?

DickD

Got my buddy again, phy.[thumbup]

DickD

And I you are the teacher, Dave? [tongue_smile]

hayduke2

Keep telling yourself that stuff des and someday you will actually believe it.

des21

Yes very busy Phy. I don’t sit down from dismissal until I go to bed at 830. Who do YOU think got rid of BS, KD and TC Hay? They indisputably lost in closed republican primaries- rejected by republicans. What don’t you get?

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