In 2014, Frederick County voters elected for the first time a county executive and a seven-member County Council under newly approved charter government. The County Council is made up of two at-large (countywide) council members and five who represent districts. District 2 covers the southeastern portion of Frederick County and includes the readership of The Town Courier – Urbana east of Urbana Pike.
Democrat Lisa Jarosinski ran unopposed and will face Republican Steve McKay, who beat incumbent Tony Chmelik, in the June 26, 2018 primary election. The General Election will be held on Nov. 6, 2018.
Both candidates agreed to answer a set of 10 questions. They were asked to limit each response to 50 words.
Tell our readers a little about yourself, your family and why you are running for office.
Jarosinski: My husband, our two children and I have lived in Frederick County since 1995. Along with many activities, I served on the executive boards of both Citizens Against Kemptown Electric Substation (CAKES) and Residents Against Landsdale Expansion (RALE). I felt it was time to step up and take more responsibility to serve my neighbors.
McKay: Pam and I have been married for 32 years and have four children and three grandchildren. I have a 33-year career in the national security field. I’m running for Council because I have been critical of other county leaders and I should be prepared to try the job myself.
After one term following the enactment of charter government in Frederick County, are there any changes to the executive or legislative branch you would recommend?
Jarosinski: I believe the charter government is working well. The goal of government is to represent and listen to citizens. The charter is new so there are communication issues and working issues between the branches that could be smoothed. We should live with the process for a while before making significant changes.
McKay: I recommend providing the Council more budget authority. Specifically, I agreed with the proposed charter amendment that would have enabled the Council to make increases to the budget, matched by corresponding decreases. I also plan to push hard for my constituents and will seek staff access to resolve issues.
There has been a lot of attention given to the Frederick County Ethics Ordinance. Are you satisfied with the current version or would you suggest any changes?
Jarosinski: I like the current version, but realize that things change and evolve so it will need to be revisited periodically. I appreciate that the Council has strengthened the ordinance by changing the commission composition, addressing conflicts of interest, regulating lobbyists, and addressing financial disclosures.
McKay: I have consistently advocated for strengthening our ethics standards. It’s a reason that I don’t take developer donations for my campaign. There is still work to be done, including expanding the time frame that defines when a sitting official must not take donations for a development under their review.
Polarizing views are prevalent in politics today. What will you do to promote reaching across the aisle to obtain agreement on policy issues?
Jarosinski: I believe in a democracy where we listen to one another, engage in productive dialogue, and respect each other. I will focus on the goal of the policy and then move forward from there to get people to work together. Democracy is about collaboration, compromise, and building coalitions for progress.
McKay: I’m a reasonable person. I always try to act professionally. I firmly believe that we can disagree respectfully. These are the traits that I will bring to the Council. This is how we all need to interact with each other if we’re going to bring more civility to our politics.
The opioid crisis along with increased drug usage and resulting crime has impacted many families and communities. What would you like to see county government do in response to this?
Jarosinski: Frederick County has a Heroin Consortium that meets every few months. I would like to see more collaboration between the Consortium and those recovering from this crisis. Strengthening our current programs by incorporating their experiences is the key toward more successful outcomes. We need to continue to work together.
McKay: There’s no single answer. We need to promote drug awareness in the schools. We need to fund treatment centers. We need to make sure our first responders have adequate supplies of Narcan. We need to support the sheriff’s office efforts to combat the pushers and suppliers.
In regard to growth and the use of Developer Rights and Responsibilities Agreements, do you feel a long-term (20-year) agreement is reasonable or would you suggest a different time period?
Jarosinski: Not only is the DRRA term of 20 years too long due to changing rules and technologies; but it is lopsided against the county and serves neither party in the long run. There are ways to make Comprehensive Agreements that both the county and the developer can agree upon.
McKay: No. The last BoCC (Board of County Commissioners) signed 20- and 25-year DRRAs and I think this was bad public policy. I would concur with five-year DRRAs, with an option for five more years. DRRAs are only intended to provide certainty prior to a project reaching the vested stage—no more.
Do you feel the present use of an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) and use of impact fees on home construction is helpful in managing growth and/or would you suggest any changes?
Jarosinski: APFOs have had a lot of attention with all the recent development proposals. I don’t believe they are serving their purpose of smart growth planning: providing adequate funding and consistency with the comprehensive plan. I think it would be worth reviewing their efficacy and investigating alternatives.
McKay: Yes, I support the APFO because I believe that new growth should pay for the infrastructure it requires. However, the last BoCC systematically weakened the APFO and the current Council hasn’t addressed this issue yet. Strengthening the APFO will be one of my top priorities as a councilman.
Do you have any thoughts on the proposed three-lot commercial development, known as Tuscan Acres located on the northeast quadrant Green Valley Road (MD-75) and Fingerboard Road (MD-80)?
Jarosinski: Any proposed enterprise would have to be approved by the planning commission and subject to public hearing. I would make sure that the community was well-informed in advance. Growth will happen and citizens need to participate. The community will have a voice. I will listen and advocate for them.
McKay: We don’t know what will go on those lots yet and whether it will be a positive or a negative for the community. However, I do think it is premature and should be delayed until Monrovia Town Center is resolved. I oppose any development that brings more truck traffic to MD -75.
Do you have any thoughts on how to reduce overcrowded schools in district 2?
Jarosinski: There are two options for reducing overcrowded schools: build additional schools or redistrict. Redistricting is a temporary fix but new schools need to be funded. We need to think long term on the front end of building projects and be open to new ideas for our current situation.
McKay: Simple—we need to build more schools. We should also look for ways to delay some of the new home construction until we catch up with our current over-crowding. We must annually update the School Impact Fee and School Construction Mitigation Fee.
A payment in lieu of option has been given to developers as an alternative to building affordable homes/apartments in their subdivision under Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit legislation. Do you support this option, or would you like to see more affordable homes/apartments built by the developer?
Jarosinski: No, I’d like to see more affordable homes/apartments built. Everyone needs shelter. We need moderately priced homes. Too often the payment-in-lieu money is not used for building. It’s redirected and we still need housing. This is a nation-wide problem that needs attention. We need to support everyone in our economy.
McKay: I originally opposed the fee option but have come to the conclusion that it has merit. There should be conditions under which it is granted. New developments suitable for MPDU construction should build those homes. Developments in areas less suitable should be allowed to use the fee-in-lieu option.
George Wenschhof writes from Frederick and is publisher of FrederickPolitics.com