Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D) is glad more than a dozen community members from the county’s immigrant population called in to support legislation that would give them more of a voice.

That legislation would set up a commission on immigrant affairs, have up to 17 members and be required to submit an annual report to the county executive and County Council outlining recommendations and data concerning immigrant needs and concerns about engagement with county government, delivering services, civil rights protections and economic and workforce development, among other requirements.

“I think it really shows ... the broad support for the bill but also the great diversity within the great immigrant population … and what they bring to our community,” Fitzwater said Wednesday about all the people who called in support.

An overwhelming number of public commenters were in support of the bill, including Elizabeth Chung, executive director of the Asian American Center of Frederick, Yewande A. Oladeinde, president of Nigerians in Frederick, and William Reid, a member of the county’s Democratic Central Committee

Others who testified were from several different immigrant groups, and some needed an interpreter to translate their messages into English. They highlighted multiple issues the commission could address, from more translation services in county government and the county’s school system, to better access to overall general services for the immigrant population.

Previously, Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) had questioned the timing of the commission, given County Executive Jan Gardner (D) had just hired Michael Hughes, the county’s chief equity and inclusion officer.

Mary Posey, a Myersville resident and close follower of county politics, agreed with that assessment in public comments Tuesday.

Fitzwater, however, believes the commission would not compete with Hughes and the corresponding Racial Equity and Inclusion Leadership team but rather complement those efforts.

“I feel confident that a majority of colleagues will see this as a win-win for the county … they heard very strong testimony from the community that there is strong support for this,” she said.

Hagen describes sign modification bill

The other bill during Tuesday’s hearing only had one person call in.

Councilman Kai Hagen (D) has drafted legislation to update the county’s sign ordinance in mixed-use developments and planned unit developments. The change would permit the county’s Planning Commission and County Council to to allow sign modifications in those zoning districts if they account for vehicle and pedestrian safety, reflect the commercial and local employment area of he community and reduce “visual clutter,” among other requirements.

Eric Soter, former director of the county’s Planning Division, had worked with Hagen and county staff on the bill, and he called in Tuesday to support it. Hagen, who first met Soter over a decade ago, was happy to work with him, given his historical knowledge of county planning issues.

“He knows Frederick County planning ... he’s been involved in and paid attention to every comprehensive planning process in the county for the last 20 years, just like I have,” Hagen said.

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

(1) comment


I'm curious. For illegal immigrants, if it is illegal for a business to help illegal immigrants by providing a jobs, how is it legal for a government to spend tax payer dollars to help illegal immigrants? For any immigrants, if, collectively, they are such a great benefit to the economy, why would they need any additional governmental services over what already exist for citizens? Finally when considering cost/benefit of immigration, why aren't children of illegal immigrants who need government support counted as a cost incurred due to illegal immigration. Those children would not be here were it not for the illegal immigration. And just to be clear, I am not against immigration or immigrants, I am against illegal immigration. I do think everyone would be better off in the long run if we addressed the causes of immigration due to violence etc. by providing more targeted aid to improve the conditions in people's home country and building up their infrastructure with green infrastructure to prevent the same mistakes we made as we grew. The biggest problems are this country's demand for illegal drugs (in other words illegal personal use of drugs), and corruption in the other countries (including addressing their drug lords control over parts of the countires and population).

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