Vote the WHOLE BALLOT for Frederick’s Future

This election marks an historic time in Frederick County. Candidates on both side of the partisan divide agree that creating an attractive business and social environment is critical to the county’s future. But little attention is given to the role that all of our elected officials have in creating and maintaining a community that has a high quality of life and supports a healthy and dynamic business environment.

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For instance, the very last office voters will find on their ballot is the Board of Education. The BOE oversees the budget for Frederick County Public Schools, which accounts for roughly 50% — yes, half — of the annual county budget. But your vote in this race is not just important because of the financial investment we make in education. Our commitment to our public schools affects the quality of life and our economic vitality in our community in many ways.

We know that schools are one of the most important thing people look at when they consider moving their family or a business. Evidence abounds about the effect that schools have on property values. Studies show that the number one deterrent to crime is a strong primary and secondary education program.

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As the county grows, we need to have a Board of Education that can effectively plan, across a wide range of critical components of a successful school system. Among the challenges are planning and managing school capacity (including new schools), maintaining class sizes, attracting and retaining excellent teachers, addressing different learning abilities, absorbing a growing diversity of cultures and languages, keeping up with rapid changes in technology and communication, and so much more that goes into preparing our children to thrive in a competitive global economy.

Managing all this and more with stretched and limited financial resources requires board members who can work well with each other, with the county executive and council, and with parents and teachers to develop and implement immediate and long term solutions. It means being committed, creative and able to compromise. A Board of Education mired in conflict will not be one that can effectively focus on Frederick County’s future.

When it comes to where people and businesses want to be, keep in mind the mantra “location, location, location” when considering your choices for the next Sheriff.

During the last eight years, Frederick County has received more than our share of unwanted national attention. That includes the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding racial profiling by our current Sheriff, Chuck Jenkins, as a U.S. Department of Justice civil rights investigation into the tragic death of Ethan Saylor and possibly additional investigation into the shooting death of 19 year old Daniel Vail near Mount Airy.

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In addition, Frederick County has joined 28 other counties nation-wide (including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Detroit, Chicago) in its designation as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) for the Heroin epidemic sweeping through the county and killing over 24 of our young people in the last two (2) years.

To qualify for consideration as a HIDTA, an area must meet the following criteria:

• The area is a significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation, or distribution;
• State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies have committed resources to respond to the drug trafficking problem in the area, thereby indicating a determination to respond aggressively to the problem;
• Drug-related activities in the area are having a significant harmful impact in the area and in other areas of the country; and
• A significant increase in allocation of Federal resources is necessary to respond adequately to drug related activities in the area.

In addition to the heroin epidemic is a 23 % increase in serious crime in the county (at the same time that rates for the same crimes have dropped in the City of Frederick). In response to these issues, the current Sheriff, Chuck Jenkins, took a trip to the southwest border (a trip funded by an alleged hate group).

County residents and voters need to ask: ‘How will we build a strong economy and future for Frederick County if companies do not want to come here and people are afraid to live here?’

Part of the answer is that we need a change of leadership in our sheriff’s office.

County offices on the ballot are not limited to a new Executive and Legislative branch of government for Frederick County, the Board of Education and the Sheriff. Voters will make important decisions about several Judicial branch offices.

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The State Attorney is a misleading title that really should be called the People’s Attorney since the office covers everything from prosecuting criminals to providing a voice for children, elderly and the abused. Providing protection and justice for victims of crime is at the heart of the office.

“The State’s Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of all criminal and serious motor vehicle cases in Frederick County, Maryland. The State’s Attorney’s Office is divided into four divisions: Circuit Court, District Court, Juvenile, and Child Support. We have specialized units in the areas of Drug Enforcement, Violent Crimes, Gangs, Elder Abuse, Family Violence, and Vehicular Manslaughter.”

Likewise, a Circuit Court Judge adjudicates on all areas of the law – criminal, civil, divorces, as well as appeals of a county government decision such as Citizen Montevue, the PATH project, or Monrovia Town Center development.

“The Maryland Judiciary is comprised of four court levels: two trial courts and two appellate courts. The function of a trial court is to consider evidence in a case and to make judgments based on the facts and underlying law and legal precedent. This may result in the awarding of monetary damages or other relief in a civil case, or the imposition of imprisonment or fines in a criminal case. Appellate courts review a trial court’s actions and decisions in given cases and decide whether the trial judge properly followed the law and legal precedent. For jury trials, the appellate court may have to decide whether the jury’s decision was proper, given the facts presented and the underlying law in the case. Generally, appellate courts do not decide which party won or lost a trial, nor do they conduct a new trial. Rather, they review the earlier trial and determine whether or not it was fair, according to the law.”

Even the lesser known offices of the Register of Wills, Clerk of Courts and Orphans’ Court provide services that touch every citizen in the county. Together these offices govern everything from guardianship of children and the elderly, to allocating resources of an Estate, and ensuring all legal documents from criminal cases, to land holdings and your Will are correctly recorded. Anyone who has been through probate understands the importance of staffing these offices with capable and dedicated personnel.

Voters do themselves and the county a disservice if they simply cast votes for these offices along party lines.

Given the importance of each of these offices, it is mindboggling that roughly 25% of those who voted skipped most or all these races in the June primary. On Tuesday, November 4th vote for Frederick’s future, your legal and civil rights, and your children’s education by voting the complete ballot.


Frederick County Board of Elections

Candidate List (with contact information)

League of Women Voters Education Fund’s online voters’ guide

Frederick County 2014 Early Voting dates and locations
(Thursday, October 23, through Thursday, October 30 from 10:00am until 8:00pm)