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From the Desk of
County Executive Jan Gardner

(10/2014) Charter Government is working! With 10 months into our new form of government, it is clear that charter government works for Frederick County. Voters predicted that the change in government would be good for Frederick when they overwhelmingly supported the change in 2012.

So how can I be so sure that charter is working? Consider three key areas. Frederick County has obtained more money for its priority project and gained a greater voice in Annapolis. Frederick County is more responsive and efficient with results that matter. And, most important, citizens are actively engaged in county government.

More money

When MedImmuneís parent company, AstraZeneca, announced a desire to expand its facility in Frederick, a key factor was whether area roads could be expanded to handle the growth. As County Executive, I made a personal call to Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn and requested funds to help upgrade adjacent State roadways. Secretary Rahn accepted my invitation to tour the area. During our tour, he committed to providing Frederick with $4 million to support needed road improvement and has since put that commitment in writing.

This funding commitment happened because State officials know that county executives speak for their counties. Under the county commission form of government, each commissioner had his or her own priorities and opinions. State officials couldnít be sure that one commissionerís priority project had the backing of the entire board. The county executive role carries greater weight and priorities can be advanced much more quickly to the benefit of the county. With these funds, needed road improvements will happen sooner rather than later and will benefit every resident who travels through the area. This is good for everyone.

Results Matter

Education is a valued priority. For the first time in five years, I was able to fund our public schools above the bare minimum required by law to make progress to ensure all our children have access to a quality education. Ground had broken on the long awaited new Frederick High School which will provide a 21st century learning environment and educate the next generation of successful Frederick County citizens.

Creating jobs and a strong business environment translates into a vibrant economy. We worked with one employer that plans to double its space in the county and grow from two employees to 100! Youíve probably heard about our new commercial and industrial tax credit. Thanks to the County Councilís passage of that credit, AstraZeneca and Flying Dog Brewery will bring hundreds of new jobs to Frederick County. The economic buzz is popping and a languishing economy is being revitalized. I am working on the creation of a new business incubator, rebranding our marketing efforts, and supporting our traditional business by adding a new agricultural business development specialist to help our farmers to grow their business.

We are moving forward. For the first time in years, Frederick County has some key infrastructure projects moving forward. Soon residents will see construction begin on a new interchange at MD 85 and I-270 to resolve a longstanding bottleneck in this busy business corridor. Ground was recently broken on a new interchange on US 15 to help move traffic around the City of Frederick and into and out of Ft. Detrick. This interchange was possible because of County and City financial support and partnership with the state. Walkersville will be getting a new library to replace the tiny building they outgrew 20 years ago.

We are taking care of our own. I just announced the launch of Community Partnership Grants, which will allow non-profits to make a difference for the people in our community. A new Seniors First initiative is working to prepare Frederick County for a rapidly aging population. Most importantly, I am taking steps to restore Citizens and Montevue to the County to protect taxpayers from what was a bad deal and to take care of our indigent seniors.

Iím able to do all these projects much faster as County Executive than when five commissioners had to agree to any action the County took. Charter works better on the legislative side, too. Our County Council is passing legislation locally within a month or two. In past years, some of these bills would have had to wait until the next General Assembly session got under way in January, and then still needed to get the support of a majority of state legislators. Under charter government, weíre able to address local issues locally.

Engaged community

One of the most important changes that charter government has brought is a more engaged community. Citizens from across Frederick are working to shape the future of our county. In fact, we couldnít be making the progress we see today without public participation.

The county has a rich history of people volunteering on our 40+ boards and commissions. Under charter government, though, scores of additional opportunities have opened up.

Residents of all ages are playing a role. Early on, citizens lined up to serve on the leadership and transition teams, and the ethics task force, where they identified needs and recommended actions. Their recommendations are being implemented today. Now even more people are sharing their skills and expertise by serving on a new Cabinet level Business and Industry Council, a new Solid Waste "Whatís Next?" team, and the newly created Seniors First steering committee, to name a few.

A record number of people - 36 - applied for a seat on the Ethics Task Force. Twenty-eight citizens applied to fill a vacancy on the Planning Commission.

There are plenty of opportunities to share your thoughts on a casual basis too. I spend quite a bit of time traveling around the county so I can talk to people, hear their concerns, and find out whatís happening. I host Talks of the Town quarterly and attend community events regularly. For instance, I enjoyed camaraderie at the recent successful Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show.

I can also be reached by e-mail at jgardner@frederickcountymd.gov or you can provide comments on any topic at PublicComments@FrederickCountyMD.gov. For the social media crowd, you can find me on Twitter @JanGardnerExec and on Facebook as Frederick County Executive Jan H. Gardner.

I believe that nothing is more important than making sure people can participate and make a difference. Your input and involvement will keep our community vibrant and shape Frederick Countyís bright future. Our best days are ahead.

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