The winds of change blew like a hurricane through the Frederick County political establishment in the July 19 primary.
Both the county government and the county school system are undergoing dramatic changes. Old names will be wiped away. New names will be poised to take their place in the governing bodies of our community.
When this election year ends, we will have a new county executive and at least three new members on our seven-member County Council. A fourth council member, M.C. Keegan-Ayer, also has lost — by three votes — but we are waiting on whether she requests a recount that could change the result.
There will be at least two new members on our Board of Education, working with a new superintendent of schools.
Some of this was anticipated. County Executive Jan Gardner’s tenure is ending because of term limits in the county charter. Council members Jessica Fitzwater and Kai Hagen gave up their seats to run against each other in the Democratic primary for executive.
Keegan-Ayer, the council president, appears to have lost the Democratic nomination for the council’s District 3 seat to challenger Jazmin Di Cola 2,300 to 2,297.
On primary election night, it was apparent that Council Vice President Michael Blue had lost the Republican primary in District 5 to another political newcomer, Mason Carter, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate.
And just like that, at least three — and likely four — of the council seats will have new occupants when the next term begins in December.
District 3 is pretty solidly Democratic, and District 5 is very Republican, so the two winners of contested primary races start the fall campaign as favorites to win in November. But in a year of turmoil such as this, who knows what might happen next?
In the race for the two at-large seats on the council, incumbent Phil Dacey finished first in the Republican primary, but his vote total was significantly smaller than the top two finishers in the Democratic primary, Brad Young and Renee Knapp. Could a fifth incumbent be in trouble in November?
Fitzwater won the Democratic primary over Hagen, so she will face off against Michael Hough, who gave up a safe seat in the state Senate to run for executive. That should be a fairly close race.
On the school board side, the big winners in the primary were the four candidates endorsed by the unions representing school employees. Here, too, we knew in advance that two of the seven board members were giving up their seats to run for other offices.
Board President Brad Young ran for County Council, and Jay Mason ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in District 3, losing the Democratic nomination to Del. Karen Lewis Young.
Incumbent Karen Yoho was the top vote-getter in the school board race. The other incumbent, Liz Barrett, finished seventh, barely making it on to the November ballot. Sixteen candidates were on the nonpartisan ballot running for four seats on the board. The top eight will go on to the general election in November.
Barrett was disappointed in her finish and said she is considering dropping out of the race.
Barrett also criticized Yoho for accepting advertising support from the school system’s employee unions, calling it a conflict of interest. She said she filed a complaint against Yoho with the school board’s ethics panel, saying it was unethical for a board member to receive contributions from the union during contract negotiations.
Yoho’s campaign reports indicated she received about $2,000 in in-kind contributions for being on the union’s “Apple Ballot,” the campaign ads distributed by the union. Of that, $60 came before the unions and the school negotiators reached an agreement on June 1, and $900 came before the school board approved the agreement unanimously on June 8.
Barrett has had a contentious relationship with the unions. She asked for their endorsement in 2018, but did not receive it, and did not ask again this year.
In our view, Yoho was endorsed by the unions because she consistently supports their positions with the board. Contributions of $60, or $900, or even $2,000 did not win Yoho’s support for the contract.
The unions, as is their right, advocate for the election of board members and other public officials who support their positions. It’s as simple as that.
Do I think Karen Yoho was swayed by $60 or $2000 to vote differently on the contract? Probably not. Do appearances matter? Yes? And does the Board of Education of Frederick County have a very clear Ethics policy that precludes even appearances of COI? Yes. Is getting the majority of contributions the day of or the day after you vote yes on the contract an issue -- I think so.
So you’re not convinced it’s unethical to accept more than an endorsement?
Change is coming with a lot of inexperience at the county level. We have had stable government for 8 years and that may sadly be coming to an end. The change at the BOE is far less dramatic and the people at the top of the primary all bring experience and have been involved. No 18 year olds in the mix!
Just like his professed mentors that preceded him on the council, Carter is bound to be an embarrassment. Hopefully there will be enough adults on the council to isolate him and his certain shenanigans. That means no Dacey and no Chmemlik. In fact, the only Republican I want on the council is Steve McKay. He’s the only stable and rational R in the County.
And this is why people like Kye must not do anything foolish when serving their time.
Coming up with pet projects that only himself and a few of his followers support. Yes, I understand that harm balloons can cause to wildlife, but the majority voters just don’t care and they roll their eyes. Then, we can’t be seeing the son of the bigot sheriff on a traffic stop with a black person and decide it’s our duty to observe and interfere. “Oh that’s the bigot sheriffs son on that stop with a black person, I better do something”.
There’s a certain balance with the voters that elected people need to maintain if they want another term. Hence, the reason Trump was booted out of Washington
It would be such a big deal if people like you didn’t keep bringing it up.
I agree ☝️
That’s not saying much. The standard for Republicans in FredCo is Batscheisse Crazy.
So, the FNP is ok with appearances of inappropriate behavior because they "know" that Yoho wasn't influenced by any money since Yoho knew that if she supported their positions (whether good for the public or not) she'd get their support. The FNP is off its rocker. It's as simple as that. Even rank and file federal employees are held to a higher standard than that.
[thumbup]MD I wasn’t feeling satisfied with the fnp’s reaction either.
Md, I agree. The democrats shouldn’t have spent a million dollars to promote Dan Cox over Kelly Shultz, promoting his beliefs. Cox should recuse himself. There should be a higher standard than that.
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