Frederick commission race focuses on growth CAMPAIGN 1994

September 11, 1994|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Western Maryland Bureau of The Sun

FREDERICK -- Of 22 people seeking party nominations to run for Frederick County commissioner, most have platforms that somehow relate to the county's rapid growth.

Frederick pub owner Jennifer P. Dougherty, for example, believes the county should attract more business and manage growth better. Walkersville entrepreneur Clyde M. Berger Jr. wants to strengthen building codes. Incumbent Bruce L. Reeder, a four-generation Frederick resident, wants four more years to work on preserving the quality of life in this still largely rural county.

So it goes through the list of 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats hoping to survive Tuesday's party primaries. Except for first-time Republican candidate Robert R. Fogle.

The Monrovia plumber, 29, dismisses growth issues. He is running openly as a member of the Ku Klux Klan, the white supremacist group's second candidate in the last two elections for local offices.

Mr. Fogle favors segregation of the races, keeping gays out of the county and, he says, protecting the interests of the white, middle class by, among other things, loosening zoning laws to bolster property owners' rights. When a gay bar recently opened in Frederick, Mr. Fogle -- a Klansman for eight years -- says he was among robed protesters outside.

The presence of a Klansman openly running in any Maryland election campaign is unusual, but it has happened here at least once before. That was in 1990 when Roger Kelly, director of the Invincible Empire Knights of the KKK, ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner. With 788 votes, he finished last in the Democratic primary.

Mr. Kelly said that Klan candidates previously "have run silently" in other elections statewide. He declined to divulge whether any such candidates were seeking office now.

Despite his presence on the ballot, Mr. Fogle has had little, if any, impact on the election campaign, according to those closely watching this year's campaigns. The candidate concedes that he has done little campaigning.

"Mainstream Republicans and Democrats reject that kind of extremist candidate," said Tom Slater, chairman of the Frederick County Democratic Central Committee. "I don't think he will do ++ well."

George Williams, an associate professor of government and international relations at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, said any time a Klansman seeks public office is a concern, but he thinks Frederick residents "are far too educated to elect someone like that."

"There are some areas he could draw from, but I don't see any significant [support]," he said.

"As an American, I find his candidacy regrettable," added Bob Preston, an American history professor at Mount St. Mary's. "But also American that anyone can run for office and get votes. We'll see what the people of Frederick will do, but I'm hopeful his credentials will not lead to his being elected."

A plethora of other candidates -- including 10 Democrats -- have entered the race out of concern about growth, particularly its impact on roads and schools, fiscal responsibility and economic development.

"Clearly, a motivator for a lot of candidates is how growth is

being handled," said Carolyn Kawecki, a political science instructor at Hood College in Frederick. "Growth is skyrocketing. School overcrowding is a very serious problem. There is also a sense that government is out of control and people need to take charge."

The latter motivated John W. Ashbury, owner of a property management firm who lives in Walkersville, to run for the $30,000-a-year post. He was an unsuccessful Democratic primary candidate in 1990.

"The current board has been anti-business, increasing every fee that God has ever created and basically discouraging business," Mr. Ashbury said. We have to change that attitude and attract new businesses and help the ones that are already here expand."

Sue Waterman, president of the Frederick County Civic Association, an umbrella organization for several community groups, said voters are aware of Mr. Fogle's candidacy. But, she said, Frederick voters have far more serious matters to consider, particularly growth-related issues.

"Growth comes in and mushrooms, and suddenly there's not enough schools, roads are incredibly congested," she said. "These are some real serious issues in Frederick County."

Republican David P. Gray, one of three incumbents seeking re-election, agreed: "Growth and how to handle it equitably is the big issue in Frederick County. There's a lot to be done. People don't want to lose the best of the past and be swept into the future."

4 Mr. Fogle dismisses growth as a political issue.

"People talk about growth all the time but don't do anything about it," he said. "Everybody's jumping on the bandwagon."

Some may view Mr. Fogle's candidacy as a push by the KKK for greater visibility in Frederick, but others dismiss any political influence by the group.

"I'm no expert on the Klan, but I believe the Klan is not having a profound political effect in the county," Ms. Kawecki said. "Its social effect and its activities are growing, but the KKK has not penetrated the political process."

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.