Frederick County District 2 County Councilman Tony Chmelik announces a write-in campaign to regain his seat in Winchester Hall.
To steal a line from the 1976 Academy Award-winning movie Network, Tony Chmelik is “mad as Hell and isn’t going to take it anymore!”
He lost to Steve McKay in the June 26th Republican primary election by less than 300 votes (1,616 vs 1,909), and while he is always willing to accept defeat in a fair fight, Chmelik feels like McKay waged a campaign of fear against him and twisted the truth beyond reality about the incumbent.
So, after 10 weeks of reflecting on his career in county politics, Tony is ready to take on McKay and his Democratic opponent Lisa Jarosinski in the general election. He knows that a write-in effort with only two months to go is more than an uphill battle, but Chmelik wants the voters to know the truth about his service as a public official.
In the Republican primary, McKay constantly hammered away at the former Republican and President of the Board of County Commissioners Blaine Young for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from land developers. Along the way, he claimed that Chmelik benefited from that funding. And for those who remember all the political banter from elections over the last decade, Mr. Young, for many is not one a current candidate will want to embrace this time around.
For the write-in candidate, heading into the general election, his two opponents are really cast from the same mold. Other than one being a female and a Democrat and the other a male, claiming the local Republican doctrine, when the dust settles in November, County Executive Jan Gardner would be pleased with either one of the two.
Jarosinski is well known from her community activism when she took a lead role in fighting a planned 765 KV substation planned to run through a residential area of over 1,000 homes. The group, known as CAKES (Citizens Against Kemptown Electric Substation), played a key role in the three-year-long battle that finally ended in 2011 with the cancellation of the PATH transmission line project.
Just recently the local PTA mom, church soloist, and tax preparer was involved with another acronym group known as RALE (Residents Advocating for Land Use and the Environment) to protest and ultimately defeat the Monrovia Town Center 1,200 residential unit planned development project at the intersection of Fingerboard Road (MD 80) and Maryland Route 75. The leader of RALE was her opponent, Steve McKay, another community activist in his own right.
It’s easy to see that the anti-land development sentiment has carried a lot of weight in recent years, and the voters in the Urbana to Mt. Airy region made their voices known when they cast their votes last June. When it comes to a debate between the Democrat and Republican, many will likely see no reason to expect anything but a cordial exchange of pleasantries in that room.
From Chmelik’s perspective, he wants the voters to know that what McKay said about his principles and positions in many cases were just false. For instance, McKay proffered during the campaign that Tony “wants [RT] 75 to become a four-lane road.” In fact, the county planning staff recommended that if the Town Center was to be developed, then the developer would be required to improve nearly a mile-long section of the road to better handle the current and future traffic problems and congestion that take place at the awkward and misaligned intersection of Routes 75 and 80.
The RALE president also stated that the councilman and father of 11 children missed over 13 meetings that he was required to attend, when in fact he rarely missed a single meeting of the county council. And of the two he was unable to attend, he tuned in to watch the meetings live on the county government webcast service. As for meetings when RALE gathered, well, that’s another story. Chmelik chose not to attend much of the time because their message was a very clear and unrealistic “Stop All Growth.”
The councilman states that his position has always been for responsible growth, and when it is approved it must be planned with a density that does not create urban sprawl. He says that at best McKay supports a policy of one housing unit per acre, which is about as far away from the concept of Smart Growth as one can get. Such a policy spreads development over larger stretches of the county and wastes valuable agricultural land. In addition, with the county’s policy of making developers pay for much-needed road and school improvements, such a position will limit county revenues and only make the current traffic and congestion issues worse.
On other issues, Chmelik sees the so-called Republican’s statements that he will be fiscally responsible as very contradictory to his support for County Executive Gardner’s recent tax increases. The councilman voted against these increases each of the 4 years he has been in office.
When it comes to the county’s requirement that developers pay school mitigation fees, voters should know that he was the only Republican to vote to increase these charges. He wishes to remind voters that in 2014, the revenue from these fees was a meager $2.9 million and now in 2018, they are projected to exceed $30 million.
Tony has his work cut out for himself. In the next 60 days, he will need to knock on a lot of doors to build the support he will need to earn at least 6,000 votes in November. At the end of the day he believes that while his position on managing housing growth is more reasonable than both of his opponents, it’s the lifelong Frederick Countian’s fiscal conservatism and positions on civil liberties that will continue to best serve his district.
Can he do it?
It’s up to him!
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