After a lot of unofficial polling of the business community, many are saying they see no real difference between the City of Frederick’s two mayoral candidates.
Now this post may stir things up a bit within the ranks of the Randy and Michael camps, but the good news is that at least some people are paying attention to the upcoming general election next month!
That’s the good news!
However, for many within the business community, several are not sure there is a lot of difference between the the two candidates seeking the City Hall's top spot.
The other good news is that of those who are expressing that there are significant similarities, nearly all think that of the choices they have, no matter who is elected, both will stay the course of business as usual in the City…neither will be bad for the the steady continued economic growth started when the national economic recovery began.
Despite it being a Republican vs. Democrat, the Randy/Michael similarities shined brightly at the October 10th joint Building Industry/Chamber of Commerce debate of mayoral and aldermanic candidates.
When asked by the moderator what business priorities are different from his opponent, Candidate O’Connor stated, “I’m not sure that we have any priorities that are different, because we are listening to the business community, and their priorities are pretty clear.”
It seems that throughout the campaign, if O’Connor hasn’t said something similar in a debate or panel discussion, then McClement has. They both see getting the public/private partnership for the downtown hotel/conference center to the finish line as at or near the top of their lists, and other priorities seems to fall near or close to each other as one looks down the page.
So what is the difference between Randy and Michael? Ask the latter, and he will say things have just moved too slow due to a lack of leadership…it’s been more like “leadership by committee.” Ask Randy, and he believes his style of leadership has been just fine. He has been telling voters to look at the results of how well the economic growth and policy reform has progressed while he has been in office.
Over the last 8 years, for better or for worse, Randy has his leadership track record, and Michael, as an alderman, has his. Clearly among the voices in the business community, many have felt that things could move faster in City Hall, and others say they are just fine with McClement’s steady as she goes approach.
At its core, is the real difference between these two candidates just a matter of leadership style?
O’Connor has talked a lot about the subject and has been campaigning on a Listening Tour platform. With all the passion that he has displayed, will he be able to convince enough that he can bring something new and better to the helm of McClement’s Good Ship Frederick?
Let’s look at two obvious advantages that Michael appears to have over the current Mayor:
- Running as a Democrat, O’Connor holds a nearly 2 to 1 advantage in registered voters over the McClement’s Republican Party. As of January 1, 2017, there were 21,093 registered Democrats, 11,632 Republicans and another 10,192 independents and/or members of other parties. But in local elections, do parties really matter?
- In campaign funding, O’Connor topped McClement by raising 32% more since the August reporting period with $14,036. He also sat with $19,538 in cash on hand versus McClement’s $7,815.
Are these really factors that will play to O’Connor’s advantage when the last vote is cast late in the night of November 7, 2017?
As far as registered voters are concerned, Randy has had to deal with this in the last two elections. The first time out in 2009, he went head-to-head with Democrat Jason Judd and won by a mere 281 votes.
Last election he was dealt a gift, as some may say, when long time Democrat Jennifer Dougherty earned the right to run as an independent in the general election with Karen Young on the Democratic ticket. When the votes were counted, Randy pulled in 4,121 votes while his two challengers split 4,174 votes!
In the arena of campaigning and fundraising, there is no question that from his numbers, Michael is campaigning in an aggressive manner. Some may say that he might even enjoy the challenge! On the other hand, Randy is on the record as saying that he really does not care for the effort. That stated, while he may not be raising as much dough, he is clearly out on the streets pressing the flesh in his typical low key manner, which served him well his last two times out.
As this observer sees it, there are three factors that could swing the tide one way or the other. Consider the following:
- Voter turn out—Turn out in the City’s traditional off-year elections has been traditionally very low. In 2013 only 23.53% of registered voters turned out to cast a ballot, and four years earlier at bit more showed up at the polls with a 23.75% turn out. If that were to be the case this time, over 32,000 people would leave the outcome up to a mere 11,000 voters. Imagine what the outcome would be if just another thousand came out to swing the election to the right or left … a landslide … maybe?
- Advantage to the incumbent—In elections where voters are unhappy en masse, change happens. This time out it is clear that McClement's challengers are seeking an issue emotional enough to inspire voters to cast a ballot for change. When one speaks to the “person” on the street, it seems that blighted properties is the most talked about issue, and O’Connor is one who is truly rattling that cage. But is that and the issue of leadership enough cause voters to want change?
- Shelley Aloi—This lady is not giving up! It wasn’t more that a week ago that Republican Shelley Aloi announced to the Frederick News Post that she has launched a write-in campaign. With only 1,388 votes cast in the primary, she lost by a mere 284 votes, which is about 27 votes closer than her primary challenge in 2013 versus McClement. With traditionally very tight margins, and in race where party affiliation often means little, could Shelley be Randy’s spoiler or a true dark horse in this race of similars?
Stay tuned … it should be a fun one!
And PS, if you are a city resident, please get out and vote!!!
Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades. He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012. He currently serves as chairman of the board of Frederick Mutual Insurance Company. Established in 1843, it is one of the longest enduring businesses in Frederick County.