Five Questions with Jessica Fitzwater

Jessica Fitzwater

On Dec. 1, Jessica Fitzwater will raise her right hand and take the same oath of office as her fellow incoming council members.

But there will be one difference in her pledge before friends, family and elected officials: The book under her left hand will not be the Bible.

Fitzwater, who is Jewish, said she's not interested in replacing the Bible with a Torah. Instead, she is thinking of taking the oath on the Frederick County charter or some other government document that will represent her commitment to public service.

"I think it's more appropriate to swear my oath on something I will be upholding. I'm not upholding the teachings of the Bible. I'm upholding the charter or the Constitution," said Fitzwater, who will represent Council District 4.

Fitzwater said she has always supported the separation of church and state but only recently resolved on taking her oath of office on a nonreligious document.

That doesn't mean religion will be entirely absent from the ceremony, which will feature an invocation led by a priest and a benediction by Fitzwater's rabbi. Fitzwater said the event would have included prayer regardless of her preference.

"If there is a religious aspect to the event, I would rather there be more denominations included," Fitzwater said.

Explaining the absence

Commissioner Kirby Delauter was indignant this week about a Frederick News-Post article he felt portrayed him as unwilling to work with fellow council members.

The story about an orientation for the incoming County Council listed the five future council members who attended and noted that the remaining two, Delauter and Commissioner Billy Shreve, were absent. While the story didn't include any criticism about the absence, Delauter believed the "intent was to make it look like we are already becoming obstructionist, which we are not."

During his comments at this week's commissioners meeting, Delauter proceeded to provide a rundown of his movements the afternoon of Nov. 18:

Delauter said he and Shreve were tied up in a meeting called by County Executive-elect Jan Gardner that happened about the same time as the 3 p.m. orientation. The meeting lasted a little over an hour, after which time Delauter had to check in on his job, he said. He then headed back to Winchester Hall for a 7 p.m. public hearing held by the Board of County Commissioners.

He requested that The News-Post clarify the reason for his absence from the orientation.

Just as a side note, though, it is routine for articles to mention which elected officials are present at various meetings. Scroll through the newspaper archives, and you will see many stories noting that a commissioner wasn't around for some decision or other. The objective is not to point the finger; it's just to document which individuals are participating in a particular event.

On Thursday, Shreve noted that he did drop by Tuesday's orientation and sat in the audience for about five minutes before heading back out again. Since the meeting lasted almost four hours, I counted him as absent.

Neither Shreve nor Delauter returned calls requesting comment after Thursday's commissioners meeting.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(34) comments

DickD

Let me see, Jerry Donald won in Dist. 1, that makes three Democrats on the County Council and four Republicans. No super majority for the Republicans. If Billy or Kirby decide not to attend they do not even have a majority, so let them do as they will. Now does the County Ex. Dir. get to vote and break ties? It would seem so. Just tell Billy and Kirby to stay home, we can run the County very good without them!

Oscarpot14

" go away (way away, mind you-) leave me alone" He earned his paranoia fair and square. Hold him accountable news-post. If ANY council member is unwilling to "play in the sand box" let them dig up the cat leavins.

armillary

I applaud Jessica on her integrity! That's one thing we've missed since 2010.

Politicians who practice their chops
employ bibles and flags as their props
but those who demur
from that phony manure
are less likely to turn out as flops.

BstD59

Congratulations on winning your seat, Jessica. I both respect and applaud your decision to not use the Bible for taking your oath of office. Just because the Bible is comfortable for some it doesn't mean that all find it so. One thing I learned a long time ago when it comes to religion, one size does not fit all. We would all do well to be more tolerant of one another.

public-redux

FNP: Typo Alert. First word in the headline.

"Politcal"

Dwasserba

Just return their calls and stop complaining about the fnp. Geez. Hissy fits.

public-redux

Ah, but Kirby doesn't talk to the FNP. He said so himself.

geoffsail

While is it certainly Ms. Fitzpatrick's right to NOT use the Bible, it draws a line in the sand for where her personal values lie. Our personal values drive our behaviors, words, actions, and decisions. It should be interesting to watch her in action. I hope we're not disappointed.

Extra Ignored

Certainly she could swear an oath on the Bible but if a Bible means nothing to you then neither does the oath.

How does requiring the swearing of an oath on a Bible not violate freedom of religion. If you church's holy doctrine is a comic book then why shouldn't you be able to swear an oath on that.

Extra Ignored

As much as people value a Bible, it is not the Bible itself that is of value but the word of God that is of value. A Bible is hardly more than an idol created by man.

Dwasserba

? I think it showed transparency on her part.

public-redux

geoffsail ~ Have you actually read the bible? Because it includes all sorts of horrible values, behaviors, and actions. And those are the "good guys".

public-redux

geoffsail,

It might cheer you up to know that Ms. Fitzwater was at the gospel program last weekend. I recognized her as I was leaving.

DickD

You will not be disappointed, Ms. Fitzwater is a lovely person. No, I am not Jewish.

FrederickFan

If I'm not mistaken, Ms. Gardner was present at the orientation.

So somehow, she was able to complete her meeting and still get to the orientation, but Mr. Delauter was unable to do so.

Keep up the great work, Ms. Rodgers. Its fun to watch the mice scurry around in fear when light shines down on them.

Sallyforth

5 minutes. That's about how much time Shreve spends on anything. It is hard for someone with a low I.Q. to concentrate for more than 5 minutes.

Extra Ignored

Low IQ has nothing to do with attention span.

Perhaps he needs to see Blaine Young's psychiatrist for an ADHD diagnosis.

public-redux

"On Thursday, Shreve noted that he did drop by Tuesday's orientation and sat in the audience for about five minutes before heading back out again. Since the meeting lasted almost four hours, I counted him as absent."

Bethany did Billy a favor by failing to report the facts accurately.

Extra Ignored

Why didn't Delauter drop by for his five minutes. Hadn't Shreve been attending the same meeting as Delauter.

DickD

I was wondering the same.

armillary

Kirby's enjoyed his technique
$60K working one day a week.
Since he learned his new pay
is just $20K
he assumes he's not funded to speak.

Extra Ignored

Silence is golden.

Dwasserba

[thumbup]

b1sellers

Sure seems like Kirby has a guilty conscience. The article just said he wasn't there - and that is now pointing fingers? Kirby needs to grow up and represent the voters that voted for him (not me!).

public-redux


"I think it's more appropriate to swear my oath on something I will be upholding. I'm not upholding the teachings of the Bible. I'm upholding the charter or the Constitution," said Fitzwater, who will represent Council District 4.

Exactly right!

MCEDDE21

[thumbup]So well said! Government is not religion and religion is not government. I was confident that Ms. Fitzwater would get the job (i.e. governing) done before, and am even more confident after reading this.

mllposey

Good Golly, Bethany Rodgers, after the hit piece you did on Delauter prior to the election - of course it looked like more finger pointing on your part.

Bring back Meg Tully.

public-redux

What you see depends upon where you stand.

Hayduke2

Hit piece??? Seemed to me to be the pointing out of events/actions - surprised there wasn't more of this. Guess everyone views things differently...

Sallyforth

Gee willikers!

FrederickFan

Congratulations to Ms. Rodgers! If Mary Posey doesn't like your work, you must be doing something right.

richardlyons

[thumbup]

BstD59

Had Ms. Rodgers really reported on Kirby prior to the election it's a good bet that he never would have been elected, so Mary, if I were you I wouldn't be so quick to point fingers.

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