State Del. Galen Clagett is hoping to trade his post in Annapolis for one closer to his hometown as mayor of Frederick.
“I’ve got a real investment in the city and what goes on in Frederick city,” said Clagett (D-Dist. 3A). “Without sounding too egotistical, I’m going to bring a lot to the table. I have a huge history in public and private life; I have good contacts at the state level and can work with a new county executive. All of that can help us build a great city.”
Frederick County will shift from a board of commissioners to a voter-approved charter government in 2014, with a county executive and council.
Clagett, 71, of Frederick, is serving in his eleventh year on the eight-member Frederick County state legislative delegation, where he is vice chairman.
Born in Brunswick in 1942, he later graduated from Frederick High School.
He previously served on the Frederick County Board of Commissioners from 1978 to 1986, the final four years as the five-member board’s president.
He is also the manager of the real-estate and property-management group Clagett Enterprises, Inc., which he founded in 1987.
Clagett said the company has no development projects in the city, and he would recuse himself if a conflict of interest ever arose if he were elected mayor.
Clagett was scheduled to make a formal announcement of his candidacy Wednesday evening after The Gazette’s press time.
He said his managerial experience both as a lawmaker and business owner makes him a good candidate for the city’s highest office.
“[Gov. Martin O’Malley (D)] told me a couple weeks ago that I was a manager trapped in a legislator’s job,” Clagett said. “I enjoy that part of it. ... What prompted me was knowing I’d have an opportunity to use those management skills. I did it for 26 years in business; now I’d like to put those skills to work in the city.”
Clagett said he has years of experience in creating budgets for the state and his company, which would be useful for shaping city spending.
He said the city’s budgetary shortfalls will shrink as new development comes to the city.
Clagett also said his experience with state pension benefits could help solve the problem at the city level, although he noted he didn’t have a definitive answer yet on how to address the growing liability facing Frederick.
“Right now, I have a lot of ideas we can try to put in place,” he said. “The idea is not to hurt anybody.... We need to make some decisions and make sure all the stakeholders are on board.”
He said he would separate the city into target areas, such as the west end, the airport, and downtown, and look for targeted budgetary adjustments or ways to attract businesses that could be made in those smaller areas to improve quality of life and drive the economy.
“We’re looking at areas targeting what we want to do, with the underlying pins being economic development, quality of life and making Frederick city as the mecca it can be,” Clagett said.
“It’s exciting. That’s what I love. I don’t see myself as a panacea, but I can do this job and can do it well.”
Clagett joins Mayor Randy McClement (R) and Alderman Karen Young (D) who have also filed to run for a four-year term in the $90,000-a-year job.
Former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty, who served between 2001-2005 and ran in 2009 but lost in the primary as a Democrat, said Tuesday that she is considering a run for the top city post as an unaffiliated candidate, but hasn’t made a final decision.
And former Mayor Jeff Holtzinger (R) confirmed he is considering another run, as well.
Several other current and former politicians have also been mentioned as possible mayoral candidates, including Alderman Shelley Aloi (R) and Frederick County Commissioner Billy Shreve (R).
On the legislative side of city government, the current board of aldermen is composed of all first-term members, including Aloi, Carol Krimm (D), Michael O’Connor (D), Kelly Russell (D) and Young.
O’Connor and Russell have filed to run for their seats on the board again.
Aldermanic candidates run at-large in the general election, with the top five vote-getters winning the seats. Aldermen earn $25,000 annually.
This year’s city primary elections will be Sept. 10, while the general election is Nov. 5.
Gary Brooks, the owner of Barley and Hops Grill and Microbrewery and a former member of the Frederick Planning Commission who was also expected to run for mayor, announced in January that he was concentrating his efforts instead on getting a ballot referendum passed to have open, nonpartisan elections in the city.
Under current election law, only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote in their respective primaries. Any attempt to get the referendum on this year’s ballot won’t affect this year’s races.
Candidates who are registered Republicans or Democrats have until July 2 to file. Unaffiliated candidates must file by May 1. Third-party candidates must be nominated by Aug. 5.