Republican candidate Daniel Cowell has joined the growing list of candidates vying for one of five open seats on the Frederick Board of Aldermen.
Cowell, 37, said he was born and raised in Frederick County, having graduated from Middletown High School in 1994, and has been a resident of the city since 2000.
A credit manager for JP Morgan Chase in Towson, Cowell said his financial background is one of the reasons he opted to run for office. Although his commute to work is lengthy, he said it wouldn’t affect his ability to serve the city, if elected.
"I want to make certain that the looming pension fund is resolved sooner rather than later," he said.
The city faces unfunded liabilities of $104.3 million in retiree health benefits and about $100 million in pensions, said Katie Barkdoll, the city director of budget and purchasing.
Cowell said he began to be interested in politics after visiting the GOP tent at the Great Frederick Fair in 2011. He joined the Western Maryland Young Republicans, a group that serves Republicans between the ages of 18 and 40 in Frederick and the state’s western counties.
Cowell said he wanted to see a more concerted effort at beautification downtown, with greater attention paid to weeds and other sidewalk growth as well as at the entrance to the city from Interstate 270.
"I’m passionate to make sure the city’s inviting," he said.
Cowell said the beautification efforts help not just with tourism but for Frederick residents. He praised the efforts of community groups for their cleanup efforts, such as the Downtown Frederick Partnership’s annual "Bring a Broom" scheduled for Saturday.
"We could always embrace more patrons and tourists as they provide financial stimulus," he said. "I want to hear from guests after visiting our city as a 10 out of 10. I would like to have unwanted debris and vegetation removed from sidewalk cracks and/or around parking deck facilities."
Cowell hasn’t been affiliated with any community organizations but is a member of St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church and played soccer at Frederick County Community College, where he graduated in 1997, he said.
He cited his involvement in cleaning up Baker Park and volunteering for those efforts in the past.
Cowell also said he is interested in upgrading the Golden Mile but shares the concerns of some residents about a Wal-mart replacing the Frederick Towne Mall.
"I know there’s a lot of dissent about having another Walmart in the city limits," he said. "I don’t necessarily see the Wal-mart as the solution to those problems. I think it needs to be discussed."
Overall, Cowell said the city is in strong shape financially, and he hopes to continue on that path.
"There’s not a lot of problems with the city - it’s minor details," he said. "The current board of alderman has done a fantastic job. I don’t have anything negative to say against them."
Cowell lives in Frederick with his wife, Amy, and their 3-month-old son, Grant.
The five-member current board of aldermen is composed of all first-term members, including Shelley Aloi (R), Carol Krimm (D), Michael O’Connor (D), Kelly Russell (D) and Karen Young (D).
In addition to Cowell, Philip Dacey, (R), Hayden Duke (R), Jill M. King (R), Jack D. Lynch II (D), O’Connor, Russell and Derek Shackelford (D) have filed to run for four-year terms on the board.
The top five Democrat and Republican candidates for the board advance to the general election, where aldermanic candidates run at-large, with the top five vote-getters winning the seats.
Each party also nominates a mayoral candidate in the primary.
Incumbent Mayor Randy McClement (R), as well as Young and Del. Galen Clagett (D-Dist. 3A), and unaffiliated former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty have filed to run for the $90,000-a-year job.
Several other current and former politicians also have been mentioned as possible mayoral candidates, including Aloi and Frederick County Commissioner Billy Shreve (R).
This year’s city primary elections will be Sept. 10, while the general election is Nov. 5.
Candidates who are registered Republicans or Democrats have until July 2 to file. Unaffiliated candidates must file by May 1. Third-party candidates must be nominated by Aug. 5.