With plans to focus on issues like growth, infrastructure and diversifying the city’s economy, Frederick Alderman Roger Wilson announced Friday his bid to run for mayor.
Wilson, a Democrat, kicked off his campaign with a virtual announcement and YouTube video, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for not holding a more traditional in-person event.
Wilson will face incumbent Mayor Michael O’Connor in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary for a spot in the Nov. 2 general election. O’Connor was the only candidate listed Friday on a city website of primary candidates.
Wilson’s announcement comes as he is facing allegations from several women of inappropriate sexual remarks or behavior. Wilson has strongly denied the allegations, saying the accusations only made him more motivated to run.
Wilson said he wants to focus on the city’s infrastructure — not only the roads, bridges and physical elements but the social infrastructure of coordinated services for people with mental health issues and other health issues.
The first-term alderman said he wants to move ahead with a project to build a downtown hotel and conference center, which he believes can be a “game changer” for the city’s downtown.
A former county director of government affairs and public policy for County Executive Jan Gardner (D), Wilson said he’d like to see a better partnership between the city and county to create more affordable housing. He wants to make sure the two entities’ housing policies are in sync.
With the city preparing to hire a new police chief, Wilson said he’d like to have a discussion of how the racial justice issues of 2020 have changed how police work is done.
“What does community policing 2.0 look like?” he said.
The discussion shouldn’t be on defunding the police, he said, but about the need to invest in the police department. He’d also like to update the vehicles in the Frederick Police Department’s fleet.
Since police can’t be everywhere at once, Wilson said he’d like to see more closed-circuit cameras downtown.
A former employee with IBM for nearly 20 years, Wilson also hopes to modernize the city’s IT systems.
One of Wilson’s main priorities would be to diversify the city’s economy and make it more resilient to withstand the strain of a viral pandemic such as the current one.
Years ago, the city focused on attracting biotechnology companies, Wilson said, and now he wants to do the same with attracting renewable energy firms.
The city already boasts a fairly diverse economy, but it can always be better, he said.
He said he thought about the political implications of challenging a mayor of his own party, but he looks forward to a vigorous campaign with O’Connor.
“I have nothing personal against Michael,” Wilson said Friday, adding he’s known the mayor for some time and considers him a good man. “I just think that I can do a better job.”