When voters go to the polls Tuesday to select Frederick's next mayor, they may need magnifying glasses to discern differences between the views of the Republican and Democratic candidates.
Both Republican mayoral candidate W. Jeff Holtzinger and his Democratic opponent, Ronald N. Young, have said they would streamline City Hall, lift employee morale and elevate the discourse within the administration and among elected officials. Both want to balance the budget, ease tax burdens and engage the public more deeply in deliberations about spending.
Both have pledged to manage the city's growth more closely so that new development does not outpace the capacity of roads, water supply and schools -- and yet both have assured developers that they will not throw unnecessary obstacles in front of projects.
Each candidate supports passage of an adequate public facilities ordinance to ensure that new projects are scrutinized for their impact on the infrastructure.
Both believe they can hammer out an agreement with the county that will secure an ample supply of water from a new pipeline to the Potomac River. Both ho-hum when asked about the possibility that, if approved by the General Assembly, slot machines might come to the city, despite a ban recently enacted by the Frederick Board of County Commissioners in unincorporated areas of the county. Gambling, the candidates have said, is a state issue.
And neither might be running for the office if the city's residency requirement had not been struck down by a federal judge last spring. Yet both spent much of their lives in the city itself or just outside its boundaries.
Their contest, involving a low-key discussion of everyday issues such as the city's parking meter rates, has been notably less hostile than the Democratic Party primary between Young and Mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty. Perhaps the biggest differences between Holtzinger and Young are their age and resumes. Both have four children, but Young's are grown.
Young, 65, first won election as a Frederick alderman when he was 29. He became the city's youngest chief executive and served four terms as mayor from 1974 to 1990. In addition, Young served as deputy secretary and acting secretary of the state Department of Planning and as deputy secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. He is part-time town manager of Indian Head, in Southern Maryland. Young, in interviews and candidate forums, said his experience in government would help him navigate state and federal programs that could help the city deal with its problems.
While he was mayor, Young oversaw the city's response to devastating floods and achieved national notice for his efforts to rebuild the city through the establishment of a historic district and the use of tax credits. He pushed for a flood-control and redevelopment program along Carroll Creek, predicting that private developers would put up as much as $120 million, even as some critics considered the project a boondoggle. The city announced in March that it was breaking ground on the $10.2 million first phase of a $20 million project to build a 1.3-mile park along both sides of the waterfront, and construction has begun on commercial and residential development.
Dougherty, however, has said some of the city's growing pains can be traced to decisions made by Young's administration, such as the annexation of several properties for development.
Young, who is divorced, earned a bachelor's degree in history at the University of Maryland. He also has a master's in administration from Western Maryland College. He is an amateur painter and the author of an unpublished novel.
Holtzinger, 41, a political newcomer, is a licensed engineer and lawyer. He grew up on a family farm on Clifton Road, about a half-mile from the city line, and recently moved inside the city. He served as assistant city engineer from February 1999 to January 2000, when he became city engineer, a post he held until September 2002.
During the 2001-02 drought, Holtzinger became the go-to guy on handling a water shortage that had forced the city to impose a temporary building moratorium. He is credited with discovering that the city had long been overestimating its available supply of water and its ability to handle development. He also led the efforts to hire the city's first traffic engineer. And he warned that the city is nearing its capacity for treating wastewater.
If elected, he said, he would review the city's capital spending and building projects. He believes his knowledge of public works projects would allow him to wring more savings out of costly projects such as modernizing East Church Street, a project that is underway. As a youth-league football coach with four school-age children, Holtzinger said he understands the need for more playing fields. He supports the creation of a lighted regional park, perhaps through annexation.
Holtzinger married his high school sweetheart, Pam. He received a bachelor's of science in civil engineering at the University of Maryland in 1987 and obtained his law degree from Catholic University in 1994.