Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Former mayor makes run for Congress

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Former Frederick Mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty is one of 10 candidates running for the 6th District Congressional race in the Feb. 12 primary election.

The one-term mayor who lost the Democratic primary during her re-election campaign in 2005 has set her sights on the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C.

‘‘It has been a decision I’ve been thinking about and talking to people about for about a year,” Dougherty (D) said. ‘‘I thought that the next big step is this.”

Dougherty, 46, believes her tenure as mayor (2002-2006) is the experience she needs to beat out the three other Democratic candidates that have already announced their bid in the primary.

They include Robin L. Deibert of Fairplay, Andrew Duck of Brunswick and Larry John Smith of Cumberland.

‘‘None have had the experience I have had in public office,” she said. ‘‘There is a big difference in office and since leaving office I understand what works and what doesn’t ... They haven’t had the experience I’ve had.”

Duck, who lost to U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R) in 2006, is unimpressed with Dougherty’s entrance in the race.

‘‘We expect we will get the nomination,” Duck said in November. ‘‘... I’m not really sure what the work as mayor has to do with running for Congress.”

Dougherty was the first woman to be elected mayor of Frederick, defeating two-term incumbent Mayor James S. Grimes (R). She was also the first incumbent to lose a primary election.

In a hard-fought campaign Dougherty lost to Ronald N. Young (D), who ultimately lost to Frederick Mayor W. Jeff Holtzinger (R). Controversy during her term at City Hall is believed to have contributed to her surprising loss.

Open government may have been the hallmark of her administration, but disputes between Dougherty and the Board of Aldermen and Dougherty and city staff, was likely her downfall.

Still the countless hours she worked at City Hall and the running of her downtown Frederick business — Jennifer’s Restaurant — is something she believes will help her to ultimately beat Bartlett in the November 2008 general election.

‘‘It’s important to have someone with a local connection in Congress,” she said. ‘‘Many feel there has been a distance with Congressman Bartlett for a long time. I’ll tell you what is really going on [in Congress].”

Dougherty believes voters in the 6th District are frustrated with the war in Iraq and are looking for a change in leadership.

‘‘More than 70 percent of the people oppose the war,” she said. ‘‘I don’t think we can trust the Bush Administration to tell us the truth. It’s really important that we bring our troops home as soon as possible ... The public no longer supports the war and we need to bring the troops home sooner rather than later.”

Finally, Dougherty said she is ready to extend her campaign beyond Frederick and into the counties that make up the 6th District.

‘‘Every county in the 6th District matters,” she said. ‘‘They need a person in Congress who will really represent them.”

The 6th District includes all of Frederick, Allegany, Carroll, Garrett and Washington counties and parts of Harford, Montgomery and Baltimore counties.

The Republican candidates include Bartlett of Buckeystown, Tom Croft of Middletown, Joseph T. Krysztoforski of Hunt Valley and Frank K. Nethken of Cumberland.

jennifer p. dougherty

Office running for: Congress in the 6th District

Political Party: Democrat

Born: 1961 in Alexandria, Va.

Residence: Frederick-unmarried

Education: Mount Saint Mary’s College in 1983, Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

Professional experience: Mayor of the City of Frederick from 2002-2006; Real estate agent since 2006; operating Jennifer’s Restaurant in Frederick since 1987; and Dougherty’s Irish Shop from 1999-2006.

Community experience: Board of Directors for Heartly House, Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club of Carroll Creek.

Key issues: Ending the war in Iraq, health care, taxes, transportation, the environment and tax credits for college tuition.

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