Princess Anne election leads to change at the top with new board president

PRINCESS ANNE — The newly-elected Town Commissioners backed Lionel D. Frederick in his bid to be president on a 3-2 vote. He replaces Garland Hayward who has chaired the board for the last six years.

Mr. Frederick, the at-large commissioner who is halfway through his second term, nominated himself during the organizational meeting held June 16. He received support from District 2 Commissioner Marshal I. Corbin and then from District 1 Commissioner Orlondo J. Taylor — both elected June 2 with 58 percent of the vote.

On the phone and not present in the meeting room, Mr. Frederick said, “Yes, thank you so much” after hearing he had won. After the meeting closed and before the phone was disconnected he wished everyone farewell and congratulations, telling them he would see them “real soon.”

Mr. Hayward, first elected in 1990 representing District 2, was nominated to continue as president by District 1 Commissioner Joey Gardner, who has served since 2010. After that failed, Mr. Corbin nominated Mr. Hayward for the position of vice president and it was unanimous.

Mr. Hayward said of the change that he’s still a commissioner, and “I’m still fighting for whatever’s best for the town.”

Acting Town Manager Tracy Grangier said she will be “updating the letterhead” and told the newly-installed commissioners to call her if they need any information or have questions.

In speaking with President Frederick a few days later he said he did not want to take away from the moment of the new commissioners taking their oath of office, but was able to give a glimpse into what his goals and objectives might be.

One of them is reversing last year’s deficit which required a significant part of the fund balance to be used to break even. He wants to end the next fiscal year with a surplus “and be a template…an example for the rest of the county to follow.”

He also wants to work with District Court so youth required to do community service do it to benefit Princess Anne. He’s communicated this to Judge Paula Price, he said, and envisions kids that get in trouble especially at school assigned to a trash detail or other service project in town.

“But the main thing is to get the industrial park thriving again, get some big businesses in there and more jobs for the people,” he said.

When he campaigned the first time in 2014 Mr. Frederick opposed the establishment of an official historic district, which did not pass. In 2015 following the death of eight members of the Todd family from carbon monoxide poisoning he pushed for a town ordinance requiring CO detectors but ultimately the General Assembly took this up and it became a statewide mandate.

He also that year enthusiastically favored adoption of a Code of Conduct which three years later the commissioners used to reprimand him for conduct before and during the 2018 election.

After being re-elected that year an assault charge against a girlfriend landed Mr. Frederick in jail without bond for 168 days. For that he was sentenced to time served, with 10 years suspended, and placed on three years of supervised probation.

A darker time more directly related to town service was charges that he tried to tamper with the 2016 election by approaching Commissioner Dennis Williams with a scheme that for $5,000 he could keep a challenger off the ballot. While he was found guilty in Circuit Court of extortion and malfeasance that was overturned in October 2017 by the Maryland Court of Appeals.

For several months following the indictment Mr. Frederick was barred from going into the town office and conducting town business. Mr. Williams ran unopposed in 2016, but lost for re-election to Mr. Corbin.

Mr. Frederick, running as a Democrat, had his own loss in 2018 when he ran for Somerset County Clerk of Court against Republican Charles Horner who took 74 percent of the vote. That election is still unsettled for the 29-year- old Frederick as he is facing fines and a possible civil penalty in Anne Arundel County District Court for four campaign finance reports that were filed late. That case is now set for Sept. 19 in Annapolis.

Mr. Frederick’s anemic attendance over the last few years, including absences from budget deliberations and votes, was also addressed with the incoming president. He said he missed meetings because “of a lot of fear and intimidation” projected onto him by some of the commissioners. “But things have changed, we’ve drained the swamp and we’ll get Princess Anne moving in the right direction.”

Mr. Frederick continues to take pride in having perfect attendance during his second year in office, something the others can’t say.

It was Clerk Charles Horner who administered the oath to the new commissioners. They said afterward that they were not aware of Mr. Frederick’s lapses in attendance. Mr. Taylor, who defeated Commissioner Mike Hall in his bid for a third term, said, “Everybody can change, that’s just the way the world is.”

Similarly, Mr. Corbin said, “We’re starting off clean, might as well start off with a clean slate.” “Maybe this will give [Mr. Frederick] a reason to do a little better.”

The next regular meeting is 6 p.m. Monday, July 6.