Fall is here... That means, harvest season is here: corm mazes, apple cider, pumpkin carvings, falling leaves, and lovely weather...
But it also means Frederick's general elections are approaching.
A co-worker gave me much needed feedback one day after skimming through one of my articles. He said that in order to make Frederick a much improved Deaf friendly city, it starts with the political system that operates the city. We can't have a city that thrives just only on the community support and the fact that the Maryland School for the Deaf is here. We need people who work in the political system to support and understand how to respect and work with the Deaf community.
As the general elections are coming, the co-worker who gave me that tip, also suggested that I send an e-mail to all mayoral and alderman candidates asking them a few questions about if they were elected, how would they help the Deaf community and their knowledge about the Deaf community and culture in general.
So, this is the first of a series of responses from all the candidates I will be posting over the next few weeks.
The questions I asked were:
1) To make Frederick a much improved Deaf Friendly city, it starts in the political offices. So, how will you, as the running candidate for the position, help the Deaf residents thrive in this city?
2) How will you contribute to the Deaf community outside of the office?
3) Sept 23- 28 is the Deaf Awareness Week, any general comments on how much you know about the Deaf community or Deaf culture?
Here are the responses from all mayoral candidates:
Jennifer Dougherty (Other):
1. We need to build awareness into our daily city operations. When I served as Mayor, we worked hard to build skills with our Police Department because in a crisis situation, communication barriers can make the situation worse. We will continue to do that and work to improve our translation for hearing impaired at meetings.
We also implemented the reverse 911 system for emergencies and worked with the Neighborhood Advisory Councils to create a voluntary sign-up database of special needs citizens who may need extra help in case of local emergencies.
2. I would pick up where I left off, having regular meetings with the leadership, staff and students at MSD to build awareness of issues and relationships...of course, I try to do that with everyone.
3. Having MSD in Frederick gives us an opportunity to meet and know more hearing impaired people that some cities. Having an openness to communicate - whether through sign language or written notes - is the only thing most people want. When I was sworn into office in 2002, we had the Singing Hands Chorus perform, it was very moving for everyone. I hope we can stay on a positive path with the hearing and non-hearing residents.
You can find more information about Jennifer Dougherty at this link: http://www.jenniferformayor.com/
Randy McClement (R):
1. To be honest with you, I try never to distinguish the residents of this great city by their gifts OR their challenges. We happen to have a thriving population of Deaf citizens, principally due to the location of the Maryland School for the Deaf.
During my four years as the Mayor, I have worked with the School, staff, students and neighbors to keep the South Market Street corridor and community surrounding the school safe for our Deaf students. I have also placed a significant focus on enhancing our digital presence, recognizing that many of our Deaf resident’s lives are enhanced by access to public information through the Internet. Our Police Department has teamed with MSD to create a unique partnership to serve the deaf community better and enhance public safety.
2. I will continue and expand the types of initiatives I mentioned above. My door is open at City Hall, and I will use our NAC (Neighborhood Advisory Councils) feedback to address any and all issues that impact our community, including the interests and concerns of the Deaf community.
3. Instead of a list of accomplishments or self-congratulatory notices, let me just say that my concern has always been, and will always be, the general welfare of our citizens. I look forward to working to make the quality of life memorable for all, expanding opportunities and choices, and doing my best to remove burdens and obstacles for every single citizen of the City of Frederick. I value the important and lasting contributions that Deaf citizens have made to our collective city life.
You can find more information about Randy McClement at this link: http://www.reelectrandy.com/
Karen Young (D):
1. I would arrange meeting opportunities with Deaf people in area to find out what are the issues of concern for Frederick's Deaf residents. What are the positive aspects of life in Frederick for these residents and the negatives. How can elected officials make a difference?
2. I would increase my knowledge base about the history of deafness in general, how Deaf people have related to the hearing community, locally and in other cultures. I would also familiarize myself with the communication options available for hearing people wanting to increase relationships with deaf people.
3. I have started to read a book entitled, "If a Tree Falls: A Family's Quest to Hear and Be Heard" by Jennifer Rosner. The author explores family, silence and what it means to be heard. When her daughters are born deaf, Rosner is stunned. Then she discovers a history of deafness in her family going back generations to the Jewish enclaves of Eastern Europe. She imagines her relatives, who showed surprising creativity in dealing with a world that preferred to ignore them, and shares her journey into the modern world of deafness, exploring whether she, a mother with perfect hearing, will hear her children.
You can find more information about Karen Young at this link: http://karenyoung2013.com/
See you all next week for another batch of responses from the alderman candidates!