26-vote win in primary boosts Dougherty to race against Frederick mayor

Restaurateur will face GOP incumbent Grimes

September 14, 2001|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

Restaurant owner Jennifer Dougherty was declared the winner - by 26 votes - of Frederick's Democratic mayoral primary yesterday and will take on Republican incumbent James S. Grimes, whose administration has been besieged with questions about a "black book" sex scandal.

The election was held Tuesday, but the Democratic winner wasn't announced until yesterday so absentee ballots could be tabulated.

Those ballots slightly padded the margin of Dougherty, 40, who had a 10-vote lead over her closest challenger, Alderman Meta Nash, after regular ballots were counted Tuesday.

"My supporters are calling for a dramatic change," Dougherty said in an interview yesterday. She owns Jennifer's, a restaurant in the city's Carroll Creek section, and is proprietor of an Irish goods gift store downtown.

On the GOP side, Grimes easily won Tuesday's primary against retiree Thomas Clay and will seek election to his third term Nov. 6.

The mayor had initially decided to run, then changed his mind a few months ago - before reversing his decision again weeks later and placing his name on the ballot.

The city board of elections decided to hold Tuesday's election despite the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the morning.

Turnout - estimated between 15 percent and 20 percent - was no lower than in recent primaries, which typically attract scant attention.

The November race is expected to include debate over a "black book" seized by police during a 1999 raid on an alleged prostitution ring in the Frederick area.

The book is a printout of customer names from the computer of Angelika Potter of Walkersville, owner of an escort service and of a sexually oriented Web site.

Last year, as part of a plea bargain in Frederick District Court, Potter paid a $100 fine for running a place of assignation.

The local news media pushed for the release of the printout.

The mayor and city officials refused, saying disclosing names out of context could harm innocent people and subject the city to lawsuits.

In a stormy speech to the Board of Aldermen at the beginning of the summer, Grimes said he would not run again because he was weary of battling the local media. That announcement surprised even his aides; earlier that day he had sent his chief operations officer to fetch the forms needed to file for the race.

Grimes soon changed his mind, saying his supporters had encouraged him to seek another term.

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