Monday, April 7, 2014

Conflict in Oakland Mills

Last Spring, on a rainy evening in front of Oakland Mills Middle School, Reg Avery commiserated with me about my loss in the Oakland Mills election and told me, in front of my daughter, that he had voted for me. He also told me they were going to keep an eye on Alex Hekimian to make sure he didn't say one thing and then do another--hold him accountable.

I found this pretty stunning. It was generally known that Reg had been a part of Alex's campaign. Had he really gone to all that trouble to campaign for Alex and then vote for me, just to make sure all his bases were covered? Or, perhaps more stunning, did he think I was stupid enough to believe he voted for me?

I belong to an elite club of honorable Oakland Mills residents who ran against traditional, Pioneer-style candidates and lost. Ian Kennedy, Phil Engelke, and I share similar battle-scars. The way you win in Oakland Mills is to go around and whisper untruths about your opponent and get people riled up. So it is not surprising that, imagining another such deliberately rigged contest, no one threw a hat in the ring against Alex Hekimian.

And no one had any idea that Alex wasn't planning to run. No one but Reg Avery. I wonder how that happened?

I am just plain embarrassed for Oakland Mills. After a year that might be dubbed our "annus horribilis", our election for CA Rep gets decided in a back room someplace. I know at least one person who would have run if they had known Alex was not running. We might have had something close to a fair fight--hard to say, given our history--but now we'll never know, since Alex and Reg made that decision for us.

As Columbia Compass blogger Bill Santos would say, "Stay classy, Oakland Mills."

Can you feel me cringing?

But that's not all. No, it gets evening more stunning. CA Rep Heir Apparent Reg Avery is also a registered Republican candidate for County Council in District 2. This is a clear conflict of interest. If he is the CA Rep, his full attention and commitment should be to Oakland Mills and Columbia. If he wants to run for County Council, he should be unfettered of any other competing allegiance.

Mr. Avery was quoted in the newspaper as saying that people think that "Republicans have three heads and walk around eating babies." But the problem with his candidacy is not that he is a Republican. Nor does anyone believe he has three heads or eats babies. The problem is better described by the completion of that same statement, where he says, "I'm me. I will always be me."

What you need to know right now is that the same Reg Avery who told me he voted for me, and that they'd keep an eye on Alex Hekimian, the same one who appears in the newspaper in a photo with Alex Hekimian, and is taking over Alex's CA Rep seat, also thinks it is perfectly okay to run a County Council race at the same time. That's Reg Avery, and by his own words, that will always be Reg Avery.

Who will stand up to this? The Oakland Mills Village Board? CA? Howard County? I'd like to see something classy come out of all of this. Right now I am truly embarrassed.


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