In the final episode of our Frederick Uncut interview series with county executive candidates, the incumbent, Jan Gardner (D), shared highlights from her first term and made the case for a second.
“We need that leadership to extend over time, and that’s why I really believe that we need another term of pragmatic, sensible, stable leadership without all the drama,” Gardner said.
She touted funding the Board of Education above the mandated Maintenance of Effort levels and a higher teacher pay scale. She also said the county’s economy had improved over her term, and she promoted the business incubator ROOT.
One of Gardner’s biggest accomplishments, she said, was retaining county ownership of the long-term care facilities Citizens and Montevue. In September 2016, Gardner announced the final settlement that returned the facility to county ownership. The previous Board of County Commissioners had approved selling the nursing home and the land to Millersville-based Aurora Holdings VII in June 2013.
Gardner said that she was concerned that, since the county executive can sell land without the approval of the County Council, it might be privatized again if one of her challengers wins.
“I think that would be a shame and a disappointment to the residents of Frederick County,” Gardner said.
None of her opponents have publicly advocated selling the property, but county executive candidate Councilman Kirby Delauter (R-District 5) was on the board that approved the sale.
Residential growth was the top issue facing the county, Gardner said on the podcast.
“Everything is wrapped together with that issue,” she said.
Gardner has advocated for the Livable Frederick master plan, which Republican contenders opposed at a debate in April. The plan lays out an overarching vision for land use in the county, based on survey responses from residents. While her challengers said they were concerned the nature of the plan could lead to violations of property rights, Gardner said there was nothing in the document that would do so.
“There is a cost to doing nothing, and I feel like people that are opposed to Livable Frederick because they want us to do nothing,” she said, adding that without a comprehensive plan in place, developers would shape the growth of Frederick County.
Gardner also responded in the interview to her detractors’ criticism that she has not been supportive of businesses and the fire department.
Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiLoos.