After absentee and provisional ballot counting, the 60 percent Frederick County voter turnout for the 2018 election was indeed high and mirrored turnout in presidential elections when the highest number of voters cast their ballots.
Democratic Frederick County incumbent County Executive Jan Gardner (55,692–52.1 percent) easily won re-election against Republican challenger Kathy Afzali (46,063–43.1 percent) and Unaffiliated candidate Earl Robbins (4,944–4.6 percent).
Gardner will be working with a 4-3 Democratic majority County Council. The County Council is made up of seven members, two elected at-large (countywide) and five elected by districts.
Former one-term Democratic County Commissioner Kai Hagen (47,050) received the highest number of votes of the five candidates. Republican Phil Dacey (45,017) won the other seat. Dacey said of his win, “I am honored to have been elected to serve all the residents of Frederick County. I look forward to working together in a bi-partisan way to address important local issues such as schools, growth and roads.”
Republican Danny Farrar (44,713) and Democrat Susan Reeder Jessee (44,495) finished just short in the hotly contested second at-large seat.
Frederick County Council President Bud Otis (13,313), who received the most votes four years ago when he ran as a Republican, came in a distant fifth running as an unaffiliated candidate. He changed his affiliation mid-term after experiencing negative feedback from his fellow Republicans on the council for often siding with County Executive Gardner on issues.
For the second election in a row, the District 1 County Council race was decided after absentee and provisional ballots were counted. Proving every vote counts, in both elections Democrat Jerry Donald came from behind after General Election Day to win. Four years ago Donald beat Ellen Bartlett (R) after absentee and provisional ballots were counted.
This time Republican challenger Kevin Grubb (10,876) held a 57-vote lead over incumbent Democrat Jerry Donald (10,819) after General Election Day. Donald (11,681–50.7 percent) ended up beating Grubb (11,336–49.2 percent) by 345 votes. The win by Donald ensured a Democratic majority on the County Council.
Donald said, “It’s great that so many people voted in this election! I’m excited to be on the council for another four years. Kevin Grubb ran a clean campaign, came very close to victory, and I wish him and his family all the best.”
In the District 2 County Council race, Republican Steve McKay (13,576–56.8 percent) easily won against Lisa Jarosinki (D) (9,588–40 percent). Incumbent Republican Councilman Tony Chmelik (748–3.1 percent), who lost to McKay in the Republican primary election, came in a distant third with his write-in campaign.
Democratic incumbent District 3 Councilmember M.C. Keegan-Ayer (11,392–64.1 percent), who is also vice president of the council, crushed Republican challenger Joe Parsley (6,349–35.7 percent).
In District 4, incumbent Democrat Jessica Fitzwater (12,472–61.9 percent) also cruised to victory against Republican challenger Jimmy Trout (7,672–38.1 percent).
Republican candidate Michael Blue (12,010–63.8 percent) easily won the District 5 council seat against Democratic candidate Shannon Bohrer (6,808–36.2 percent). This seat was held by Republican Kirby Delauter, a frequent critic of County Executive Gardner. Delauter ran for county executive and lost to Kathy Afzali in the Republican primary election.
This election will do away with the conflict that existed between three Republican councilmembers—Billy Shreve, Delauter and Chmelik—and Democratic County Executive Gardner. Republican at-large Councilmember Billy Shreve lost in the Republican primary election to Craig Giangrande in his bid for District 3
Maryland state senate, District 2 Councilmember Chmelik lost in his re-election bid, and District 5 Councilmember Delauter failed in the primary election in his bid for county executive.
County Executive Gardner said, “I look forward to a positive and productive working relationship with the incoming County Council. I expect the council to be collaborative and to work well together. Issues will be debated on their merits. The antics of some of the current councilmembers will not be missed.”
Following the Dec. 1, 2018 swearing-in ceremonies, the first action by the County Council will be electing their president and vice president. With a 4-3 Democratic majority, look to see a Democrat elected president. Democrat Kai Hagen, who received the most votes of any councilmember-elect, said, “I’m not planning to be council president … or vie for it. … I think M.C. Keegan-Ayer would be a great choice, having served as the VP for the entire first term of the new charter council.”