Open Government

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The charter government, beginning in 2014, instituted a new system of governance in Frederick. The concept has a lot of potential, but there are serious challenges. I’m a fan of having council districts with defined constituencies. This should result in better representation of our communities in Frederick. However, our current system suffers from some serious deficiencies. Like any new system of governance, we need to look at how to improve these institutions for the future.

Within the current system, the County Executive is too strong. This criticism has nothing to do with the party in power. However, to ensure truly responsive and representative government for communities like Brunswick, Jefferson and Middletown, we need a stronger County Council: one that can be a check against the executive, provide constituent services and truly engage in the budget as an equal power center.

Instead, our Council tends to be too dominated by the Executive. Too often, the Council has served as merely a rubber stamp for the Executive’s agenda.  The result has been constant annual spending hikes with tax increases to boot.

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With a new council in place, following the 2018 elections, we have the opportunity to amend the charter, adjust practices and improve how the government operates. According to Article 7 of the Charter (and Article XI-A of the Maryland Constitution), there are mechanisms in place to do so.

If elected, I will advocate for serious reform of the Charter to ensure we’re providing the best results for our citizens. Some of these are suggestions for Charter reform, others can be done through improved operations.

  • We need a Council that can engage in the budget by voting on changes to budgetary line items and increase funding, if necessary.
  • Council members should be active in constituent relations as advocates for their communities.
  • Moreover, we need to find ways to encourage citizens to engage in government through participatory approaches and transparent practices. Let’s bring citizens to local government and local government to the citizens.
  • Citizens should be able to easily track the results of government projects so they can see not only where their tax dollars are being sent, but also if those tax dollars are producing results.
  • Policymaking requires a multi-stakeholder approach, including citizens, community leaders, civic groups, business leaders and industry experts, to create a long-term strategy to smart growth in our county.
  • And maybe most importantly, we need to cut the partisanship and posturing that has poisoned our national politics and is corrupting even local governance here in Frederick.

Of course, there are more steps that can be taken. I’ve written this not to be a product of political artillery, but rather as a part of a conversation. Only by working together can we foster opportunities and build a better path forward for the people of Frederick.

 

 

Open for Business

cove smart g2Frederick needs to be fertile ground for business so we can provide jobs
and higher wages to the working people of the county. Small business is the engine that drives prosperity and job growth in Frederick. These are our innovators – our dreamers. We need to unleash the potential of business in the county

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The Council can work to make sure the environment allows for businesses to prosper. We need a strategic approach to support businesses in Frederick in a way that provides opportunities for all income levels. The County government should make sure that regulations have the least negative impact on our businesses as possible. We need to make Frederick a hub that draws businesses here from competing counties and helps our innovators pursue their dreams. Where businesses stake their ground, jobs will come, cities like Brunswick will be revitalized and opportunities will grow for everybody. I will fight to make sure that Frederick remains open for business.

 

Results for Citizens

IMG_1230Spend Responsibly and Evaluate!

In Frederick County we need to make sure that our County Government is operating in a way that is producing results for our citizens. Even though Frederick has one of Maryland’s highest tax rates, too many of our citizens are paying increasingly more into a system and getting less out of it.

My job is an evaluator. I assess whether programs, funded by tax dollars, are achieving their intended goal. I use data to see if they are producing intended results. If they’re not, we can identify ways to course correct, adapt the project, improve efficiency or stop doing it. I want to bring that kind of common sense analysis to Frederick County.

 

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While citizens struggle to make their budgets balanced, we must remember that government needs to do the same. While taxes might be a necessary burden, we can’t forget that they are still a burden. After all, as Margaret Thatcher once said, “eventually you run out of other people’s money [to spend].”

I am running so that we can ensure that government spends your money wisely.

I’m a listener by trade. I interview, study survey data and go in depth into research. That is something that I’ve brought to my race for County Council as I have been knocking on doors since July, talking to voters about their priorities, needs and passions.

I’m a data nerd. I like to take in all inputs from various perspectives to inform decisions. I love to look at big data, the large quantitative research that is the trend right now, as well as “small” data that looks at the individual and diverse perspectives and stories that define the lives and experiences of citizens.

I’m a fiscally conservative, small government guy. I fundamentally, believe that we need to be responsible with the people’s money. To ensure this, I believe we should regularly have a top-down and bottom-up evaluation of the Frederick government.

If elected, I will consistently look at government programs and operations to make sure we’re fulfilling our responsibility to be careful stewards of folks’ well-earned money. This following criteria will be the lenses through which I will look at County government budgets and operations:

  • Relevance – Are government programs and services addressing actual issues in the community that are important to citizens?
  • Efficiency – Is government operating in a way that is timely and cost-effective?
  • Effectiveness – Are government programs and services producing results for citizens, families and communities?
  • Sustainability – Do government programs empower citizens to ensure that we’re not dependent on the government?Adaptability
  • Adaptability – Is the Frederick government adapting appropriately to changes in the community. Are we flexible and dynamic?

We should be using data and research to inform our decisions in government. Livable Frederick claims to do so, but I still have major questions about the methodology used to inform the process. Also, there have been many strides in doing so across the country, in trying to make certain government services more like the Apple Store than the DMV. We should find a way to pilot evidenced-based service design to make government services more targeted and effective and to make government institutions more accessible.

In Frederick, all of our dreams lay before us. If we do these things, we can restore confidence in government and produce better results for the citizens of Frederick. By looking at how government operates, in this way, we can build a better path forward in Frederick County.

Smart Education

Frederick’s next generation is our most cherished responsibility. Education needs to be the priority of local government in this county. Our education system must focus on building up our students so they can be the best they can be. Our education cannot be bogged down in other priorities.

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More bureaucracy is not the answer to educating our students. Too often schools are flushed with cash without producing suitable results for all our students. Frederick’s teachers need to be trained and compensated in a way that is competitive with our neighbors. After all research shows that more important than any other factor, a child’s development after their family is their teachers.

We need an all-of-the-above education system that seeks to prepare Frederick’s students to enter the workforce. I will look to work with our School Board to find ways to make sure Frederick’s schools are the best in the state. Whether in public, charter or home schools, students in Frederick need to be prepared for the diversity of challenges and opportunities in life.

Frederick must be open to alternative approaches to education and policy that strengthen our children from K-12. Our schools cannot be made solely for mass production. School choice is an important arrow in our quiver, but we also have to take a fresh look at how we’re executing private education to ensure we’re helping our students be the best they can be. The more we fail, the more children will slip through the cracks.

In addition, Frederick Community College and other vocational schools need to be strengthened to ensure that students have access to affordable and quality technical education.