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From the Desk of County Commissioner Candidate Richard Johnson

Let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Dick Johnson and I am running for County Commissioner. I have been a resident of Frederick County for over 35 years. I am married with a blended family of 7. As of now, we are the proud grandparents of 8 boys and 1 girl. All of our children have attended school in Frederick County and we are thankful for the quality education that they received. Education is one of if not the most important services that we as a community provide. I say that the community provides it because it does so through our tax dollars.

I am a graduate of The Catholic University of America with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation I spent 24 years working for one of the top commercial contractors in the Washington Metropolitan Area. During this time I served in the Army National Guard for 6 1’2 years years.

We were responsible for such notable projects as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for Vietnam, part of the National Air & Space Museum, 8 metro stations and numerous hospitals throughout the area including Shady Grove, Suburban, Washington Adventist, Providence, and Southern Maryland Hospital Center. Nineteen years ago, I decided to start my own commercial construction company. After almost 2 years of commuting to Rockville everyday, I decided to relocate the business to Frederick. We’ve been here ever since.

When I moved to Frederick I found that the best way to meet people was to become involved so I joined the New Market Volunteer Fire Department. I subsequently was head of the committee that was responsible for starting the ambulance service in New Market. Since that time I have taught GED math and Excel at the Beacon House, served on the Board and then as President of the Frederick County Builders Association, served on the Board of The Frederick County Housing Trust, the Advisory Committee for Habitat ReStore, the Board for Habitat for Humanity Frederick County, the Advisory Committee for Construction Education at FCC. I am also an Adjunct Professor at FCC teaching Construction Management. In addition, I and two of my best friends are partners in the Buckeystown Pub, which is a neighborhood restaurant and bar that specializes in crabs.

You, like my wife, may ask, "Why did you decide to run for County Commissioner?" The short answer is that I want to do my part in creating a Frederick County that can be all it can be for my grandchildren and generations to come. How you achieve that is a major task.

First, you must have a realistic understanding of where the county is today coupled with a vision of its future. While it is idealistic to assume that any community can return to its past completely it is important to remember the past and build upon the successes and the uniqueness of the various areas of Frederick County.

One of the quality of life issues we need to improve upon creates a much better Frederick and helps our families at the same time and that is Live Here, Work Here. How do you do that? You start by zoning enough property and providing infrastructure that supports job growth, either through expansion of our existing businesses or attraction of new businesses. Having jobs in a community is important no matter what some people would have you believe. Jobs create wealth, support charities and pay taxes.

Then we need to address the workforce housing issue. Currently, in the County, the Adequate Public Facilities Ordnance assess a fee for a single family home of over $15,000.00 and grows every year. Density affects affordable housing, market demand is another factor. There are other issues that impact costs like financing, but we need to understand those that we can impact at the local level. The present Board instituted a MPDU program which provides that a certain percentage between 12.5% and 15% of units in a subdivision must be Moderately Priced Dwelling Units. This is a good start but more must be done.

Organizations like Interfaith Housing and Habitat should be encouraged to build affordable

Housing. Fees need to be waived or postponed to facilitate this type of housing.

The County just completed work on and adopted a county wide comprehensive plan. Prior to this being adopted, the County had a comp plan as well as each jurisdiction had their own plan which, by law had to be updated every 5 years. The new plan does away with the local updates, which is not a bad idea as long as the wishes of the jurisdictions were incorporated in the new plan. From what I have seen thus far the plan appears well conceived with a few major flaws two of which are: down zoning and removal of designations for future bypasses and schools.

Down zoning in my opinion does not improve the quality of life of a community. But it does assure that the taxes of those who still can afford to live in such a community will go up.

Down zoning also affects a person’s plan for retirement as well as financial viability. Moreover, in these difficult financial times I do not believe that the County Commissioners took into consideration the effect this down zoning will have on our tax revenue.

Planning for future roads and schools doesn’t happen overnight. Provisions have to be included in future development for land and Rights of Way. We need to incorporate these in our current plan.

For the last several years, it appears that the current Board has been reluctant to work with our

volunteer fire companies in helping then to achieve their mission. Volunteers are the backbone of our fire service and have been for years. We need to do whatever we can to help them not only in increased development of their volunteer base, training, facilities, equipment and fundraising.

Jobs, education, property rights, affordable housing and the fire and rescue services among others formed the basis for my decision to run for County Commissioner. With the help of the residents of the northern part of the County I hope to be elected to the Board of County Commissioners in order to guide our County towards the future, while honoring the past.

Thank you and please feel free to contact me at 301-674-1003.

Read position papers of other candidates running in the 2010 primary