Stanley Mazaleski wants to be mayor of Frederick. Which is very interesting because he lives in Emmitsburg, some 20 miles away.
William Jefferson Holtzinger also wants to be mayor of Frederick. He has not lived in the city, either, technically, because his lifelong home is just beyond the city limits. But believing it was important to live in the community he hopes to govern, he has rented a house in the 300 block of Madison Street and planned to move in this weekend.
Both entered the race thanks to a ruling by a federal judge that struck down the city's three-year residency requirement for mayoral candidates.
Only the third GOP candidate, Alderman Joseph W. Baldi, a 25-year resident of the city, would not have to include a moving van as part of his inaugural ceremonies should he win the city's top office.
In a topsy-turvy election year already noted for court fights, comebacks and ironic turnabouts, three Republican candidates are vying in the Sept. 13 primary for the chance to head their party's ticket in November. Mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty, the city's first female chief executive, is locked in an energetic struggle for the Democratic nod against former mayor Ronald Young.
But there was not supposed to be a GOP primary. Although a few well-known Republicans flirted with running, including County Commissioners Vice President Michael Cady, most were waiting for Baldi to declare. When Baldi announced, it was widely expected that he would run unopposed for the nomination. Then a federal judge in Baltimore set aside Frederick's charter provision requiring that mayoral candidates live in the city at least three years.
Young, who made history as the state's youngest mayor, was living just beyond the city limits, until moving back recently. Interested in challenging Dougherty, Young filed a lawsuit arguing that the residency requirement was unconstitutional. Foes of the mayor -- including Baldi -- joined him.
A U.S. District Court judge agreed, voiding the charter provision. In the period between the judge's decree and the city Board of Aldermen's adoption of a one-year requirement, out-of-towners were free to join the race.
Although Baldi, 58, is in his third term as an alderman, he is pitching his campaign as an outsider, a point raised in his theme, "Take Back Your City."
"Generally, people are pretty responsive," Baldi said.
He said that under Dougherty, the city has become too legalistic, too mired in red tape and too costly. He proposes trimming city payrolls through attrition and making more cost-efficient contracts with companies that supply health benefits to city workers. He also accuses Dougherty of setting an unnecessarily antagonistic tone in the city.
"We didn't have this problem the first eight years I was in office," Baldi said.
Baldi, a mortgage banker who is seldom seen without a bow tie, said he would be more welcoming to businesses and development. Because of the lingering effects of a drought that prompted a building moratorium, construction of schools and other infrastructure has also paused.
An emergency appendectomy July 30 forced Baldi off the campaign trail for about 10 days, he said. But he is back to raising money and knocking on doors to woo voters.
"I'm having a wonderful time," he said last week. Baldi is married and has four children.
Holtzinger, 41, known as Jeff, is making the city's infrastructure his key issue. He contends that the city's care of its water, sewer and road systems has failed to keep pace with growth. A former city engineer in Frederick, Holtzinger said he was the staff member who first alerted the city that it did not have enough water to serve planned homes and businesses and called for a moratorium. He said his experience working with rank-and-file staff members in the city and county would be a plus as mayor.
"I'm not a politician. I have no plans to be a professional politician," Holtzinger said. "I just feel things are going in the wrong direction. At some point you have to stop complaining and do something about it."
Holtzinger, who was hired by former mayor James S. Grimes (R), has made an issue of Dougherty's leadership style, saying she has "politicized" policy debates within City Hall.
He also said the current administration has rushed into expensive projects, such as rebuilding Church Street, without fully exploring the most efficient approaches.
"I believe a lot of money is being thrown at projects just to say, 'Look what we've done,' and it's been really mismanaged," he said.
Dougherty, in a telephone interview Friday, denied politicizing policy debates. She portrayed herself as a manager who demands results and holds people accountable. Both Baldi and Holtzinger, she said, typify a plodding approach to problem-solving.
Holtzinger, who is a licensed engineer and lawyer, is married and has four children. On a recent night of canvassing, Holtzinger acknowledged that the proliferation of Young and Dougherty signs suggests the GOP primary has been overshadowed by the Democratic contest.
"I just don't have the money to flood the newspapers with ads, so I think the best bet is just to go around talking to people," he said.
Mazaleski knows he has an uphill climb, and not just because the drive, door-to-door from his house to City Hall, is about 20 miles. He has never held elective office, and his campaign operations center is his laundry room.
After losing a bid for Emmitsburg mayor this year, he challenged the results, arguing among other things that a shredder near the balloting area could have allowed tampering. His request for a new election was denied.
But that has not tamped his ardor to run. In an interview that ranged over gas prices, modular homes, job programs and slot-machine gambling, the former Environmental Protection Agency scientist ticked off his order of business from a handwritten list.
"They need help. And they need someone with scientific background. They really need a broad-spectrum person, and that's me," said Mazaleski, 71.
Mazaleski said he would lower property taxes, create a youth job corps and begin holding community sessions every three months or so "to find out what the beefs are" and streamline the planning process.
"I got another biggie for you," Mazaleski said. "To pay to get the property taxes down, which is important to a lot of people, I'm for recreational slots."
"The city is a jewel," he continued. "It's got a tremendous past. You're getting back to the Civil War, and even back to the Revolutionary War, and you've got to protect that. You've got to protect the historic beauty of it, and the culture that goes with it."
He is married and has four children. As of Friday, he had not done door-to-door stumping. "I'm getting ready to go down next week and walk around and let people meet me," he said. "I'm not in bad shape."