Republican political newcomer W. Jeff Holtzinger claimed an upset victory last night in the Frederick mayor's race, pulling ahead of a former four-term mayor who was seeking to return to City Hall.
Holtzinger, 41, a lawyer and licensed civil engineer who also surprised a favored candidate in September's GOP primary, had never before sought elected office.
For Ronald N. Young, 65, the campaign marked a return to city politics after an absence of more than 15 years. Young, a Democrat, played up his experience in state and local government. Holtzinger campaigned as a new voice.
"Frankly, I was shocked," Holtzinger said, as well-wishers swarmed him with congratulatory hugs and handshakes at Isabella's restaurant on Market Street. Unofficial results show he won by fewer than 400 votes. As calls came in from Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (Md.) and other party leaders, Holtzinger responded with his aw-shucks style.
"Well, I appreciate your call. . . . I'd love to have you up here anytime," he told Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele. "I'm a little shellshocked."
With his former Republican primary opponent, Joseph W. Baldi, standing nearby, Holtzinger said the electorate clearly wanted new faces and a more guarded approach to development. "I think people are concerned about what's happening with the growth," he said.
At Young's headquarters on E Street, music was playing and drinks were flowing, but the mood was subdued. "We had really strong polling over the weekend," Young said. "I thought we were going to win."
Young said he had no regrets and believed that he was instrumental in removing Mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty (D) and restoring civility to city politics.
Young was more generous in his concession to Holtzinger. "I'm really hopeful he's going to be a good mayor," Young said. "But I think it's going to be good for the city either way."
He added, "I guess I should feel worse than I do, but I don't."
Young said believed that Dougherty and her supporters played a role in his defeat by going over to Holtzinger's side.
Young's and Holtzinger's views were similar in many respects, and their paths to the ballot were equally roundabout.
Young, who had moved outside city limits for several years and recently moved back, challenged the city's three-year residency requirement in court. When a federal judge struck down the provision, his ruling temporarily opened the race to anyone, including Holtzinger, who lived just outside the city line. The Board of Aldermen later amended the city charter to make one year of residency a requirement.
In the races for aldermen's seats, Democratic incumbents Marcia A. Hall and Donna Kuzemchak Ramsburg won reelection. Democrat David "Kip" Koontz and Republicans C. Paul Smith and Alan E. Imhoff also took seats, according to unofficial returns from the city's 12 precincts.
During the Republican primary, Holtzinger used shoe leather to defeat another unknown and the heavily favored and better-financed opponent, Alderman Joseph W. Baldi.
In the Democratic primary, Dougherty contended that her administration had moved the city forward on several substantive issues. But she also tried to link Young to the "black book," a long-running scandal involving the records of a prostitution ring. The shot backfired, and Young soundly defeated her.
Dougherty, in a telephone interview yesterday, declined to say for whom she would vote. She said neither the mayoral race nor the aldermanic campaigns had impressed her. All the candidates, she said, skimmed over the issues.
"I think it's been an imaginary campaign, devoid of substance, devoid of a vision of the future. We've had a beach ball battle, back and forth," she said. "Everybody wants to, quote, streamline government. How? Everyone wants to cut taxes. How?"
Yesterday, residents said growth was the city's most important issue, followed by increasing tax burdens, property assessments and traffic woes.
"I know we need growth. I know we need progress, if that is the word you want to use," said Doris Summers, 73, a retired kindergarten teacher. "We just need to be careful."
Brad Benna, 27, a registered Republican who has lived in Frederick since January 2004, said he voted for Holtzinger because the city needs change. He expressed concern about the growing fees developers pay for new dwellings. He also said he would like to see tax relief and more efficient delivery of city services.
"I wanted to try something new," said Benna, who is a salesman for a building supply company.
But Bob McCardell, 92, a lifelong city resident, said he chose Young. "He served for 16 years as mayor, and I think he has a good idea about how to run the city," McCardell said. "And a much better idea than the current mayor."
Eleven candidates, including a Green Party member, sought places on the five-member Board of Aldermen. Two aldermen -- Hall and Ramsburg -- sought reelection.
The three other aldermen, all Republicans, were not in the race. Baldi gave up his chance for another term to pursue the mayor's job. William G. Hall and David G. Lenhart chose not to run.
Besides Marcia Hall and Ramsburg, the Democratic slate included Koontz, Kenneth Berlin, and Thomas G. Slater. On the Republican aldermanic ballot were Samie Conyers, Imhoff, James C. Joyce, Randy A. McClement and Smith. Aldermanic contender Joanne Ivancic was the city's first Green Party candidate for office.
Democrat Ronald N. Young, left, was defeated by W. Jeff Holtzinger yesterday. Joseph W. Baldi, right, was defeated by Holtzinger in the GOP primary.