Frederick's Republican mayor solidly defeats Democratic challenger

November 05, 1997|By Del Quentin Wilber JTCSO: SUN STAFF

FREDERICK -- Mayor James S. Grimes solidly defeated Democratic challenger Frances G. Baker in yesterday's mayoral election.

With all but absentee ballots counted, Grimes had 3,869 votes and Baker 3,380. He garnered 54 percent of the votes cast to her 46 percent.

Voter turnout was 30 percent.

"I feel great," Grimes told supporters at Republican headquarters after the results were announced last night.

"Anytime you put that much effort into something and get this kind of result, it's all worth it," he said before he met with about 100 supporters at Republican headquarters downtown.

Grimes will serve with four Democratic aldermen and only one Republican. "That's not a problem," he said. "I can work with anybody reasonably well."

Baker said she hasn't made plans for the future.

"I want to thank everybody that worked so hard for me. I gave the voters a choice. What will be, will be," she said.

It was a contentious campaign between the incumbent and Baker that drew criticism from residents of this Western Maryland city of 48,000, the second-largest incorporated city in the state.

Frederick faces major change during the next several years as schools grow increasingly crowded and the population is expected to double by 2020. There are already 6,000 building permits in the pipeline, officials say.

Both Grimes and Baker are dedicated public servants, each serving at least eight years on the Board of Aldermen. But they also represent different sides of civic leadership -- Grimes is a self-made millionaire and Baker is the wife of Joseph Baker, grandson of a city patriarch.

Grimes, 58, who owns a $40 million truck dealership and leasing company, attempted to run on a platform of economic development, but found himself fighting charges of mismanagement and mishandling of personnel matters.

Those charges stemmed from the resignations of a popular director of the community arts center and his replacement, as well as structural problems associated with the building.

Baker, 69 -- president pro tem of the Board of Aldermen -- defected from the Republican Party to take on Grimes. She said she decided to run after she became disgusted with how Grimes treated city employees.

Pub Date: 11/05/97

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