A Sept. 4 Metro article included incorrect information about past offices held by Ronald Young, a candidate for mayor of Frederick. Young was deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and he was deputy secretary and acting secretary of the state Department of Planning. (Published 9/9/2005)
Four years ago, former Frederick mayor Ronald N. Young threw his name and support behind an energetic newcomer, appearing in advertisements and rounding up friends to help elect Jennifer P. Dougherty as the city's first female chief executive.
Last week, amid an increasingly embittered campaign for the Sept. 13 primary, the two mayoral candidates could not even seem to agree on whether they ever liked one another.
During a televised forum on Adelphia Cable's "NewsMaker 10" program, Dougherty all but called Young a liar over whether her style of leadership led to the firing or dismissal of staff members at an arts center.
"I just have to say, 'There she goes again,' " Young said at another point, saying Dougherty had distorted his record on managing growth. "I just have to chuckle a little bit when somebody looks back 17 years and says, 'Oh, you didn't do this.' "
Hours after taping the forum, the ill will reached a new level as Dougherty linked Young to the notorious "black book," a pile of records detailing a convicted madam's prostitution ring.
Dougherty did not mention Young specifically or say that his name would be found in the records kept by convicted madam Angelika Potter. But with Young in the audience, she challenged unnamed public officials to "come clean" on their involvement in the episode.
"Ask him," Dougherty replied when she was asked immediately afterward whether she was implying that Young was in the black book.
Suddenly, the four-year-old scandal was thrust into the campaign. Young responded angrily.
"I think Jennifer thinks she won the election four years ago on the black book, and I guess she's desperate and thinks she can win reelection on it," Young said.
Young acknowledged that an alleged prostitute, Sherry Lynn Nolan, during a taped interview with police, raised his name and that of former mayor James S. Grimes while describing how the madam would drag down some prominent people if she were raided.
Republicans, meanwhile, make no efforts to hide their schadenfreude.
"I hope it continues to degrade, because I frankly think it helps the Republicans' chances," Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr. (R-Frederick) said last week. "For one thing, it's the most compelling show in town."
About the only thing the Democratic candidates agree on is that managing the city's rapid growth is the top issue. They express concern about keeping the city affordable while nurturing its new reputation as a regional draw for art, entertainment and fine dining. Each blames the other for a lack of campaign civility.
Young also has accused her administration of spending too much money while gouging residents with high taxes and fees. He said she has bloated the city's payroll with 160 more workers than he oversaw when he left office in 1989. He accuses the mayor of running to court every time someone disagrees with her, thereby running up legal bills.
Above all, he has portrayed the mayor as someone who thrives on having the last word, who cannot resist poking her finger in the eyes of friend and foe. When Frederick County officials announced Wednesday that they were withdrawing from two-year-long talks with the city on sharing the water and the cost of a new pipeline from the Potomac River, Young said Dougherty's uncompromising style was partly to blame for the impasse.
Young, 64, who served four terms as mayor of Frederick, is the part-time administrator in the town of Indian Head in Southern Maryland. He also has served in state government; as deputy secretary and then acting secretary in the Department of Natural Resources, he helped promote then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening's "smart growth" initiatives.
Dougherty lumps Young in with the good-ol'-boys network that ran the city for years behind closed doors and created some of the problems she has been trying to solve.
In interviews and campaign speeches, Dougherty has embraced her image as a sort of Rudy Giuliani of Western Maryland: a no-nonsense manager who gets things done.
Although citizens in polls, public forums and interviews have expressed concern about the city's tax burden, Dougherty has told them bluntly time and again that she will not promise tax reductions without looking at cuts in services. She has said that taxes -- though they have increased because of rising real estate prices and tax assessments -- still amount to no more than $4 a day.
Noting that Young lived outside city limits until about a year ago, Dougherty also said the former mayor is out of touch with Frederick's issues and is frozen in time. In 1988 -- the last full year of Young's last term -- the city took a fateful step toward encouraging more growth when it moved to annex 1,500 acres for what would become Dearbought, Whittier and Wormans Mill and other developments.
"We're playing catch-up," Dougherty said in an interview last week. "I'm the only one who has the record of putting legislation on the table and putting it to a vote to make developers pay for it."
Dougherty has trumpeted her administration's growth strategy and its response to the 2001-02 drought that forced city officials to declare a temporary building moratorium.
An ordinance was passed that tightened the procedures for allocating available water for development. The city set out to develop two additional wells, scoured miles of pipes for leaks, encouraged conservation and negotiated with Frederick County on a long-term, $75 million project to supply the city with water from the Potomac. She pushed unsuccessfully for an ordinance that would ensure that the city has adequate roads and schools in place before new developments could be planned.
"Growth is the big issue, because the burdens of growth are hitting us now," Dougherty said. "He's late to the table on this."
There are other successes, too, Dougherty said, such as Carroll Creek, where a park is being laid out and buildings are rising. The police department's ranks have grown with 14 new officers, and its chief -- her hire -- has built trust with the community, particularly among minorities, she said.
Dougherty also credits her administration with revitalizing business along Route 40 west of town, known as the Golden Mile. And she touts her administration's creation of neighborhood advisory councils, which she said have encouraged grass-roots participation in city life.
"It's rhetoric versus action," said Dougherty, 44, who owns a restaurant and a boutique in town.
In regard to the legal fees, she said, most of the money has gone to defend cases, including a challenge to a Ten Commandments display and a lawsuit filed by Young involving the city's three-year residency requirement for mayoral candidates. Young responded that the mayor proceeded in the residency case despite opinions from the state attorney general's office that she would lose.
Young has the edge in campaign funds. He has raised $39,274 and spent $21,307, according to Aug. 15 filings. Dougherty has raised $14,620 and spent about $6,615. Democrats expect the race to be tight.
"You know the truth is, Ron and I don't have to like each other," Dougherty said during the televised debate. "We don't have to like each other to run for office. We have to love Frederick, and I love Frederick."
"Well, I love Frederick, and the truth is, Jennifer, I always liked you," Young responded.