Frederick County Council Raises Concerns Over County Executive’s Appointment Process

Two candidates for top county government positions were announced before the Council interviewed them.

The Frederick County Council:   Steve McKay, Brad Young (P), Renee Knapp, MC Keegan-Ayer, Kavonte Duckett (VP) Mason Carter, Jerry Donald.

Frederick, Md (KM) It was a situation which made some Frederick County Council members feel awkward. Last Tuesday, the Council discussed a motion to go into closed  session to interview two candidates for two  top positions in county government. But their names had already been announced through news releases from County Executive Jessica Fitzwater’s office.

After a motion was proposed to go into closed session, Councilman Steve McKay wanted the names of the two candidates announced before meeting in executive session. “I understand and completely support gong into closed session for the interview,” he said. “I just think there’s really no reason why we should not name the individuals this point during open session in the interest of transparency.”

Councilman Mason Carter wanted to go further. “I’m all for this world of transparency, this world of openness. I think that we should take this a step further and interview these nominees in a public session,” he said.

None of their colleagues wanted to go that far. Councilwoman M.C. Keegan-Ayer said it’s important to continue past practices when it comes to interviewing candidates for top jobs in county government. “It was an unfortunate incident. Yes, it’s awkward. But many of us have been in awkward situations before, and we will be in awkward situations again. We’re just going to need to move forward with this,”: she said.

Councilman Jerry Donald agreed. “Even though it seems idiotic to not announce names that have been announced to the public, for consistency sake, I’d rather just stay in closed session and keep the names to ourselves for now,” he said.

The Council voted 5-2 to go into closed session with Councilmen Steve McKay and Mason Carter voting “no.”

The candidates being interviewed were John Peterson, who was picked as the next Chief Administrative Officer, and Lara Fritts, who was chosen as Director of the Office of Economic Development.

By Kevin McManus