Susan Reeder Jessee said she would look to find compromises and positive solutions to county issues while “leaving attitude at the door” if she were elected to the Frederick County Council.
The Democratic candidate for the at-large seat said her deep history in the county set her apart from the others in the race. She was born and raised in Frederick County, she said, and never moved away.
“Frederick County has been good to me, and I want to give back,” Jessee said.
She said that if she were elected, she would focus on a wide variety of issues, including the opioid epidemic, schools, jobs and growth.
Opioid abuse is the most pressing issue the council must deal with, in Jessee’s view.
“I’ve lived in this county my entire life and I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s killing our children,” she said.
She would support continued collaboration between the council and the sheriff’s office on the enforcement side as well as strengthening of anti-drug education programs. She is also a proponent of medical cannabis as an option for opioid abuse treatment.
Jessee, formerly on the board of Meals on Wheels, also counted food insecurity among the elderly as an issue she would address if elected. She would look for ways to increase the county’s contribution to Meals on Wheels as a way to take on the problem.
“This is our fastest-growing population. We need funding,” she said.
On traffic, Jessee was open to exploring unconventional options such as allowing shoulders to be used as travel lanes on U.S. 15 during heavy travel times.
Regarding schools and businesses, she said she would like to work closely with the school board and the Frederick County Office of Economic Development to find out how to best address their needs.
This election campaign will not be Jessee’s first. She ran for the same seat unsuccessfully in 2014, which stoked her desire to be involved in public policy. She said her favorite part of the experience was meeting with voters and businesses to learn about issues important to them.
“My deep desire to serve the citizens of Frederick County never left since my candidacy in 2014,” she said. “It was an incredibly rewarding experience for me.”
Her parents, Odette and Bruce Reeder, were also active in politics. Her father served as a county commissioner.
Jessee has been involved in several public service organizations. She serves on the Fire and Rescue Advisory Board, previously sat on the Friends of Meals on Wheels board and was an original board member of the Frederick Innovative Technology Center Inc.
As a biotech product manager, she said she hoped her private-sector experience would also be useful should she be elected. Jessee was employed with a contractor at Fort Detrick, working with multimillion-dollar requisitions and also was the head of business development and government operations at a pharmaceutical company, so she has experience on the other side of the equation, responding to government requests.
The County Council consists of seven members, five elected based on geographic districts and two at-large. They serve four-year terms and currently earn $22,500 annually.
Nine people are seeking election to the at-large seats. There are four Republican candidates: Philip Dacey, Danny Farrar, Justin M. Kiska and Jason Miller. And five Democrats will be on that party’s primary ballot: Jessee, Galen R. Clagett, Kavonte Duckett, Kai John Hagen and Mark Long.
County Council President Bud Otis, who is unaffiliated, has said he will file to appear on the general election ballot.
The 2018 primary election is on June 26, and the general election follows on Nov. 6.