Election 2018 logo - General Elections

With less than two months remaining until the general election in November, 13 of the 15 candidates on the ballot for County Council positions gave their views on growth and county government at a forum Tuesday.

The forum, which was sponsored by the Frederick County Building Industry Association and the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, presented a series of questions with yes or no answers to each candidate before presenting candidates from each district with narrative questions allowing a two-minute answer.

C ouncil at-large

Four of the five candidates in the at-large race spoke to the creation of a charter review committee and what charter changes they would support implementing.

Phil Dacey (R) cautioned that all charter amendments will have to be put to a referendum in four years, but that he would like to give the council more authority in the budgeting process. He added that he would advocate for several different viewpoints on the charter review committee.

“Charter government is something we all have to live with here in Frederick County, so everybody in the county should feel like they have a voice and representation in changing the charter,” Dacey said.

Kai Hagen (D), who said he opposed the original charter when it was written, said the charter could be improved in several ways, including giving the council more authority and flexibility in the budgeting process. He added that the county could improve on how the district maps are drawn to avoid partisan redistricting.

“We need to find a good process with a good consensus and make a good case for those things that most people can agree about,” Hagen said.

The council should be more of a separate entity from the county executive, said Democratic candidate Susan Reeder Jessee. She also said that moving County Council meetings to later in the day could increase public input.

She advocated for members of the business community and residents with less political bias to be part of the charter review committee.

“It needs to be a diverse group of voices,” she said.

Current Council President Bud Otis (unaffiliated) lauded the current charter as a “good road map to get started,” and stressed the need to work together with the executive branch. He added that the council should have more input on the budget.

The charter has encouraged involvement from the public due to district representation, Otis said.

“I think, sure, we could do more with the budget,” Otis said. “But, by and large, I think it’s been a good process. I’d like to see a broad section of people sit down and look at the charter again.”

Danny Farrar, the second Republican in the race, did not attend the forum because he visited the Pentagon for a Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony.

C ouncil District 1

Council incumbent Jerry Donald (D) and Republican Kevin Grubb each addressed the funding priorities for their district, which covers southwestern parts of the county extending from Middletown into parts of Urbana.

Donald expressed the need to work toward a long-term solution for solid waste and address school crowding. He also advocated to fully fund bikeway projects that were included in the county’s recently passed bikeways and trails master plan.

“We need a long-term solution as a funding mechanism to deal with our path and bikeways long term,” Donald said.

Grubb cautioned that he would need to see how much is allocated in the budget before he determines the priorities for which he wants to advocate. But he said that his top three priorities are schools, roads and public safety.

“Your priorities will change year to year based on what’s needed, so it’s difficult to say what you’d ask for next year when you haven’t seen ... how much money is coming in,” Grubb said.

C ouncil District 2

Steve McKay (R) and Lisa Jarosinski (D) addressed making the county more business friendly, with McKay saying he hears anecdotally about overregulation of business owners in the county.

He proposed deeper evaluation of the county’s regulations for businesses to determine what the County Council can do to encourage and foster more businesses.

“It’s very easy to take a broad hand-waving approach, but what particularly are the issues?” McKay said. “Is it about fees? In terms of excessive fees that make it difficult. Is it about other regulatory structures? I want to actually learn what those concerns are and how we can address them.”

Jarosinski echoed McKay’s sentiments, stating that all businesses in the county are important and the county needs to collaborate with those businesses to make them feel welcome.

“We need all workers in our economy,” she said. “We need lawyers. We need doctors. We need trash collectors. We need tradespeople. We need all parts of our economy.”

After the forum, Tony Chmelik, who registered as an official write-in candidate for the council race in District 2, received three minutes to speak. Chmelik highlighted school construction and roads as his main priorities, saying the county needs to work closely with developers to build roads and schools “at today’s dollar” rather than at inflated costs in the future.

C ouncil District 3

Council incumbent M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) and challenger Joe Parsley (R) each proposed the one piece of legislation they would introduce on their first day in office if they knew they had support.

Parsley said he would alter the fee structure placed on businesses and builders, because it has attacked one industry in particular — the building industry. He said he would like to see the funds that builders are tasked with providing come from a “more general” source.

“For us to grow as a county and be successful, we cannot malign one industry,” Parsley said.

Keegan-Ayer said she would revisit legislation that passed in May which allows solar arrays on agricultural land if the solar array is 75 acres or less and on certain parts of agricultural land.

Keegan-Ayer said the bill does not allow enough land for companies to get a big enough foothold in the county.

“Since that was an issue I dealt with extensively in the last term, I think that’s something I would be interested in looking at again,” Keegan-Ayer said.

C ouncil District 4

Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D) expressed her support for Livable Frederick, the county’s comprehensive master plan.

She credited the holistic approach to planning for the county, noting that because it’s so different, it probably caused some trepidation among county residents.

“This is a big deal for Frederick County,” Fitzwater said. “So, in my opinion, this is something that we should be taking slow, and do it right. I don’t think it’s something that we should be rushing through.”

Jimmy Trout (R) disagreed, likening it to the Monocacy Scenic River Plan — an update to a plan approved in 1990 that makes recommendations for land use along the river to protect its water quality, natural resources, recreation and heritage.

“I don’t like either one of them,” Trout said. “I throw them both away and start all over from scratch.”

Trout said he would like to have central committees from both parties and have them appoint residents to form a bipartisan board to redo both of the plans.

C ouncil District 5

Michael Blue (R), who is a small-business owner, said he would like to evaluate regulations for business owners to ensure they’re fair to potential incoming businesses.

“We compete with adjacent counties for employment and possibilities that come along with development,” Blue said. “We need to make sure we’re offering business-friendly policies that will entice businesses to come to Frederick.”

Blue’s opponent, Shannon Bohrer (D), could not attend the event due to a previous commitment.

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Allen Etzler is a city editor at the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at aetzler@newspost.com.

(32) comments

Comment deleted.

What language is this?


Dick! no emoticons provided but appendage, third choice on either hand[lol][lol][lol][lol]


Yup, you are your typical Republican. [innocent]


3 things- Phil- not showing up for votes and meetings in your last position does not qualify you for higher office. Danny- mix in a smile every year or so. You look a tad intense bordering on crazy. Tony- just go away.

It may be Bud and Kai for me at large. SMH, other than Steve Mckay and I the pickins for the GOP in Frederick County are pretty slim.[beam]


des21 guess you haven't heard about the threats Bud gave to the county executive on keeping him in charge for another two years or the way he treated MC behind closed doors.


Nope- I'm pretty sure MC's a big woman and can take care of herself though. It would be condescending and sexist to think otherwise.


I can't imagine the spin Tony made in his comments. It's too late for him to start talking schools and roads. His record of supporting developers by not holding them accountable for increased school construction fees and his unwavering support of development in New Market and Monrovia that will tax our road infraructre is crystal clear. He's not a critical thinker and utterly disingenious. Now he's shown that he's dishonorable, vindictive, and petulant.

He's a non-factor as far as actually winning. The only question is the extent of votes he steals from Mr. McKay in this vindictive write-in campaign.

Matt Seubert


Well said Matt...




If the county wants to build more bike paths, then MAKE THE BIKERS get a license or permit to ride on the paths. The bikers buy these fancy shirts, pants, bikes and etc., they can pay to ride the bike paths too.................


Some might think that they pay taxes like everyone else so maybe bike paths should also be covered. Some people dress fancy, drive fancy cars, have fancy gadgets so should they pay more too?


I actually hate this term because so many people mis-use it but that IS a false equivalency HAY. tHEY ALREADY do PAY MORE FOR THOSE THINGS. (sorry.)


Yup, just reacting to his lumping all bike riders into the "fancy" catergory...


Ahhhh, subtlety is often lost in this medium.


It makes sense to give the Council more authority on budgets, with a veto power by the CE.

If we are going to have more bike paths. We need to make sure that they are safer. A jersey wall or even a raised asphalt bar would help. This would keep bikes and cars in their lanes. Jersey wall would be the best.


The candidates did not pick the day 9/11 for this event. The Chamber of Commerce and Frederick County Builders Association did. I do know that many of the candidates did participate in 9/11 events so to say others didn't have their priorities straight for the day is the reason you are voting for a particular candidate is very short sighted.


While kids sit in portables and drivers sit in traffic...Jerry Donald talks about more bike trails. Typical liberal, glad he will be gone come November!


Jerry will still be here, Tit.


Maybe a good series of bike paths would get rid of some of those cars and decrease congestion. From what I've seen of Jerry is that he addresses the needs of the county so I find your comment rather narrow.


Jerry Donald has done a very good job as councilman, he is thoughtful (asking questions) intelligent, professional, and makes a lot of sense. Bikes for some would be a great way to commute. I say, he stays!


Tit, since you don't like Jerry, I assume therefore he must be highly qualified, professional and productive.

Sure enough, in his brief introductory remarks, he talked about the new facilities he has brought to his district, the huge improvement to school funding, and the many voter meet & greets he has held throughout the past four years. Jerry Donald has done an excellent job, perhaps the best of the entire County Council.


And not one of these candidates talked about the county’s partnership with the city for the hotel. What a shame. At least I know the ones that are against it from the ones that answered me


How about listing them.?


Don`t know anything about Danny Farrar but he has my vote. Danny set his priorities straight on this day.


Frederick County had its own 9/11 tribute ceremony in front of Winchester Hall. Everyone was there. Weren’t you?


Voting in a void with no knowledge. Typical Republican.


Whaaaat? Don't drink the Vic-laced Kool-Aid Dick.


And you think ignorance is a blessing, Dave?


Sorry Dick, you lost me.


I think Danny did something Pappy likes and respects. At this level of government he would qualify as a "highly informed" voter!


Any when Pappy says he doesn't know anything that is smart, Dave? You lost me!


Wow, how do you know that all of these folks didn't have their own method of honoring the event? Maybe you should focus on the Chamber of Congress and Builders Association who picked this day and put all of these individuals in a must choose situation pappy.....

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