Christmas in Frederick Came Early
Frederick County received an early Christmas present this week in the form of a newly sworn county council. Jan Gardner will begin her second and last term as county executive with a Democrat majority in the county council. This will be the second county council to serve after the adoption of the county charter form of government in Frederick. Barack Obama once said that elections have consequences and many in Frederick are afraid of just that…Consequences. The Democrat majority will have full rein to pass an agenda with little opposition in council. Social media has already been abuzz with local councilmen Kai Hagen seeking input on banning plastic bags in Frederick County. County residents should guard their straws now.
Up first for Jan Gardner will be the replacement of Ken Kerr on the Board of Education in Frederick. Mr. Kerr vacated his seat after he was elected to the House of Delegates. The opening now leaves the burning question of who should fill the board of education opening. Traditionally, the next highest vote recipient in the recent election would expect to fill the role in most years. 2018 though is no typical year and in a hyper-partisan world, some county Democrats are eyeing an outside applicant apart from the next highest vote count in the November election. Should Jan Gardner choose to reject the hyper-partisanship shown by some, it would be a great bipartisan step to reassure county residents. Should the next highest county vote recipient be selected, this would seat April Miller as the lone conservative voice on the Board of Education. April Miller is a current Board of Education member and has many years of experience advocating in public education for county students. She recently started a committee to focus on the county special education programs after Frederick failed a recent IEP audit. Voters can only hope Jan will hear their voice and allow April Miller to continue to serve our county.
In council business, the new council will soon begin again the Monocacy River Plan update. The Monocacy River splits Frederick and Carroll Counties. Both counties chose representatives to update the previous river plan completed in 1990 and over the course of the last year an update was reviewed, revised and eventually brought up to a vote in the Frederick county council. While the previous council tried to bring the river plan to a vote and complete the update before their term ended, the plan was not able to finalize for review until after the election and as charter government does not allow passage of major legislation during lame duck meetings they could no longer legally bring the plan to a vote and complete the update. Numerous delays in our county government with final edits are theorized to be the culprit in the delays and hopefully were not a delaying tactic to allow the new council to reopen the entire update for changes. Carroll County government though has now voted and approved the updated plan as of this writing. Many Frederick residents who own property which borders the river were frustrated that the current plan that in a split county council would not guarantee property rights along the river. With a new council, who also have Livable Frederick in mind, they are justified in their concern and our neighbors in Carroll County should watch closely.
That brings us to Livable Frederick an all-encompassing county plan that would dictate a local socialist utopia where the county government would literally control what is seen, heard, breathed and built in Frederick County. The current plan is a 200-page edit of lofty goals with no mention of price tags or how that price tag would be paid for. This plan would place too much power in the hands of any party in county government to change what property and business owners are allowed to build, maintain or create at any time, for any reason, they deem fit. The current plan would limit freedom of choice within our county and push out older existing residents who have been in the county for many years and even generations. Livable Frederick sets lofty goals of bringing in new residents who will willingly sign up to subsidize those many lofty goals such as subsidizing artist living spaces near studio space. Livable Frederick would submit all county activities to allow the county to oversee all aspects so you live, work, seek entertainment, and even eat food produced in Frederick County. How this would look is anyone’s guess as even local focus groups set up by the county could not explain details to participants in the local focus groups. The plan says it seeks to honor our manufacturing past while placing no incentives for businesses to grow in the county. A YouTube video produced by the county also touts too much emphasis on biotech jobs while not diversifying our job base to allow for ebbs and flows in future economies. Towns within the county would also fall under the new plan as small area plans based on what the county sees as the best use of the area. Small towns could soon feel like they are in the twilight zone and their current town unrecognizable. The new council has already stated that they have the votes and will pass Livable Frederick. Hopefully, voters will read Livable Frederick and get involved to stop this overreach of power.
Once the new county council completes this to do list, residents can only wonder if a push to sanctuary county status is next. Many local Democrats have been opposed to our successful 287g program currently overseen by our popular Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and it is a likely target of increased oversight.
So as the sands in the house glass of 2018 slip away in the final weeks of the year. Frederick county can only hope local conservatives find their voices and speak up to oppose in 2019. The next election is four very long years away. Buckle up it’s likely to get very bumpy soon.