Mayoral race heating up
WTOP's David Burd reports.
FREDERICK, Md. - One former mayor is eyeing another run for the seat in Frederick, and a second says he has set himself up to run should he make that decision.
Former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty confirmed she has begun collecting signatures to be on the ballot in November, but hasn't made a final decision on whether she'll run.
"I am strongly considering a run for mayor as an unaffiliated candidate," Dougherty, who served as mayor from 2002 to 2006, said in an interview. "When 25 percent of the city's voters are blocked from the city primary and have no voice in the primary, I feel that it's worth discussing issues with them in the general election."
Dougherty, a former Democrat, said she dropped the party label six weeks ago.
"I think city politics are better with less partisanship," Dougherty said. "I've lived it, and I know from firsthand experience. Better focus on the issues, less focus on the party."
Former Mayor Jeff Holtzinger, a Republican, has said he, too, is considering another run. Residency requirements, which have come up in the past, will not be an issue, he said.
"I'll be ready to run if I make that decision," Holtzinger said during a recent interview. "I know what I think the issues are, and I know what I would run on."
If either candidate does seek the nomination, they will join a growing field of mayoral hopefuls. Delegate Galen Clagett and Alderwoman Karen Young have both announced they will seek the Democratic Party's nomination in September. Mayor Randy McClement is the only Republican to make his intentions known so far. Dougherty would be able to skip the primary and go straight to the November election as an unaffiliated candidate.
"I see it as a good way to see three options running for mayor," Dougherty said. "Based on what I've seen with 25 percent of registered voters being unaffiliated, they don't like either party. ... Having more choices is not a bad thing."
Clagett, who is set to make his formal campaign announcement Wednesday, said he had not heard that Dougherty was considering another run.
"I'll deal with whatever comes," Clagett said. "I've done that for a lot of years in politics. I'm going to run for the office, and I'm going to run full steam."
Young said her strategy won't change based on who is running or how many candidates are on the ballot.
"My strategy is focused solely on my vision for the future of Frederick and what it will take to get us there," Young said. "What are the opportunities we have that we have not taken advantage of, and what are the challenges we face that need some specific and immediate responses."
Dougherty said she has been collecting signatures on weekends the last few weeks. To qualify, she'll need signatures from at least 3 percent of registered voters. Dougherty said she's about 40 percent to that goal.
Even if Dougherty gets enough signatures, she said that does not guarantee a run.
"I'm committed to Frederick in every way, and I think I still have good ideas," Dougherty said. "The question is not whether I think I have good ideas, it's whether people who vote in Frederick think I have good ideas. This process is helping me make the ultimate decision."