Born of Irish Princes, she once again seeks to rule the City of Frederick in 2017!
As I wrote back in 2013, the Doherty Clann of County Donegal in northwestern Ireland has always been a proud and rebellious bunch. Derived from the Gaelic O’Dochartaigh, the name has evolved over the centuries into many variations including (O) Dougherty, Daugherty, Docherty, and Doharty.
The name literally means “Our Heritage.”
Tradition has it that back in the 4th century a Doherty ancestor known as “Niall” was the Legendary High King of Ireland.
During his reign, it is said that Niall was responsible for raiding Britain on the coast of Wales … and during one episode he kidnapped the one and only Saint Patrick and held him captive in Ireland.
Niall set a family tradition of fighting relentlessly in the name of honor to uphold his cause. The powerful clan continued into the early 17th century with his 21-year-old descendant Sir Cahir, who served as the Alderman of Derry City. The young lord became embroiled in conspiracies and sought revenge over confiscations of clan real estate.
O’Doherty’s Rebellion ended after he was slapped by the governor. Sir Chair then killed his superior and then ransacked and burned his hometown to the ground.
As in the case of Niall, his numerous enemies eventually retaliated causing a fateful demise of the once powerful Doherty Clansman.
Fast forward now to the 21st century in the City of Frederick, Maryland, where resides another descendant of the Legendary High King. There you will find the proprietor of an Irish Pub known as Magoo’s. Her name is Jennifer Dougherty, who proudly hails her heritage of the old country.
She too, once held high authority … not as an Alderman, but as the city’s Mayor from 2002 to 2006. During her term, as the first woman to hold Frederick’s highest post, Ms. Dougherty, like her ancestors, fought hard to get her way … but along that path, her four-year term was not without controversy. She was never shy about taking controversial and often progressive positions, which brought about displays of public duels with her foes.
After being defeated in the primaries as the incumbent in 2005, it was just four years later that the relentless Dougherty once again unsuccessfully carried the family crest into battle to regain her rightful place in City Hall.
She met defeat again in a 2008 Congressional challenge against then incumbent Republican Roscoe Bartlett. The question then arose: Was her campaign for returning to public office over? Was she ready to settle back into the life of a full-time pub owner, doing a bit or real estate on the side?
But it was nothing more than a respite, as the Frederick entrepreneur once again raised her sword in 2013 and procured over 1,400 signatures on a petition to earn the unprecedented right to skip the September primaries as an unaffiliated candidate.
Meanwhile, she sat on the sidelines sharpening her weapons to await the victor of a primary war for the ages between two well-healed Democratic politicos Galen Clagett and Karen Young. Mildly scared and battle wary, Young emerged as the winner. In the Republican primary, Mayor Randy McClement came out as top of the heap of contenders, who included Shelley Aloi, who is once again facing him in next month’s primary.
Many have said that the three-way race in the 2013 general election was a gift to McClement. With Young and Dougherty representing the left, votes split, giving the GOP another victory.
But here we are 48 months later, and with one victory and two mayoral defeats under her belt, the relentless candidate is back as a Democratic contender facing off against Michael O’Connor for their party’s slot in the general election.
What will make Dougherty a good Mayor for Frederick?
Over the years, many Fredericktonians have come to know her well, and she has shared with me and others what she believes are her personal strengths, weaknesses … and passions for the City.
She sees herself as a strong and visionary leader, who can be decisive. During her first term as Mayor, she can boast of many accomplishments that included:
- Strengthening the city police force
- Establishing the Golden Mile Tax Credit
- Kick-starting private development along the Carroll Creek Linear Park
- Redeveloping decrepit public housing projects with Federal Funding from HUD
- Creating the Neighborhood Advisory Councils
- Resolving a Citywide public water shortage
Her platform in this year’s campaign has been centered on familiar themes that she says she can do something about:
- Better communications between the Mayor’s office, its agencies and constituents
- Be realistic about what to do with the City’s multimillion dollar investment in the Hargett Farm
- Put a stronger focus on dealing with homelessness and the city’s opioid problem
- Introduce a Senior Property Tax Credit
- Keep Frederick a top destination by supporting tourism
- Focus on strong jobs in targeted areas
- Move the Downtown Hotel project forward
- Support City growth, but at the same time consider the cost to its residents
- Deal with blight by improving Code Enforcement
- Improve the experience of working with the Historical Preservation Commission
- Restore Mayoral weekly press conferences and maintain an open-door policy with the media
Today, as the second candidate to declare her intention to seek the Mayoral office in 2017, Jennifer has reiterated consistently that since she left office in 2006 that she has learned from those “personality conflicts” that marked her term.
She told Pete McCarthy of the News Post in February 2013 that “… city politics are better with less partisanship,” and after living it firsthand, it’s better to put “focus on the issues [and] less on politics.” And it’s fair to say that thus far in this campaign, as well as her last one, she has (dare I quote a former US GOP President) shown a “Kinder and Gentler” side, but one with no less determination to be pro-active as a change-agent at City Hall.
Now that we are in the heat of her latest battle, I can once again hear the chant of her clann:
“Who so ever asks me of my birth…
I will tell them I am born of Irish Princes who ruled in Donegal
a thousand years ago; that I am descended from the High Kings of Ireland,
and my name is from the Clann ÓDochartaigh!”
Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades. He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012. He currently serves as chairman of the board of Frederick Mutual Insurance Company. Established in 1843, it is one of the longest enduring businesses in Frederick County.