VIDEO: Interview with District 1 Candidate Mike Wagner
The Ferndale resident has waited nearly a month as the County Council works to select a candidate to fill the open seat.
Ferndale resident Mike Wagner is seeking to fill the open seat for District 1 on the Anne Arundel County Council.
It was left vacant when Daryl Jones reported to federal prison.
The other six members of the council are charged with selecting the person to fill the seat, but they remain deadlocked, with three members supporting Wagner and the other three favoring Marine Corps reservist Peter Smith after more than 100 rounds of votes. The council is scheduled to vote again on March 19.
Patch met with Wagner to ask him about his reasons for seeking the District 1 seat, and about the important issues facing the district and the county. Patch also asked Wagner his opinion on the council’s selection process.
Name: Mike Wagner
Family: Married with two children and five grandchildren
Profession: Business man, owner of Michael's Eighth Avenue and H&M Wagner and Sons food and restaurant supply
Previous political experience: Maryland House of Delegates (1975-77), Maryland Senate (1977-79, 1983-94), according to the Archives of Maryland
Plans to run for reelection if selected?: No
Quote of Note: "First of all, I supported Daryl [Jones]. He was one of my proteges and he ran on my ticket for the [Democratic] State Central Committee in 1994 and and he ran for reelection in 1998. But I also coached him in little league."
Glen Burnie Patch: Why are you seeking to fill the seat for District 1 on the County Council?
Mike Wagner: First of all, I supported Daryl. He was one of my proteges and he ran on my ticket for the [Democratic] State Central Committee in 1994 and and he ran for reelection in 1998. But I also coached him in little league and I worked very closely with him. I helped him run for the council when he ran and I helped him run for reelection. I was very involved with Daryl. ... So when this little problem came up, I was approached and asked if I would consider serving out the term. And I said I'd consider that, and I said, "But I won't run for reelection. I don't want to run again." But I think that I can hit the ground running because of my experience in the legislature. I served ... three years in the House of Delegates, 13 years in the state Senate. So I'm familiar with the process and I'm familiar with the community. I've lived here for 66 years in Ferndale. I know all the areas of the district, I've worked in the district and I've represented the district and I know the leaders of each one of the communities or a lot of the leaders in the communities. So I thought that it was a perfect fit that I could jump in there and represent the 1st District because there wouldn't be any growing pains. I'm ready to go.
Patch: What specifically about your time in the legislature qualifies you to serve on the council?
Wagner: Well, I mean, the fact that I was there 13 years serving on the Finance Committee, which is a committee that handles a lot of important legislation that comes before the Senate—a lot of business issues. And working with other people. I have an ability to get along with people and sort of engage in compromises and that's been my history.
Patch: What makes you a better candidate then Peter Smith?
Wagner: Well, like I said, because of experience. Because I can move in and be productive. When I was in the Senate I was the majority whip and the job of the majority whip is to be the leader of the majority party and get votes and sell the program that the [Senate] president and the committee is trying to sell. I'm just familiar with this and I'm ready to go. I know the players, I know the district, I know the problems.
Patch: What are the biggest issues facing District 1 and Anne Arundel County?
Wagner: Certainly the biggest issue is always going to be education. And the schools and the school repairs and those things and to try to bring back as much to the district as you can. Another thing that's important is crime. That's certainly something that is first, or in the top couple, on everybody's list. They want their community safe. And of course everything behind it—none of it is not important. But certainly we're dealing with a tight budget crisis now and I think spending money wisely, not wasting money, and see if we can get through this bad economy. And I've been through that. I've been through that in the legislature.
Patch: How would you describe your political views?
Wagner: My political views? Common sense. Common sense, I mean, over the years—and I've always been a Democrat over the years—the Democratic Party has moved further to the left and I haven't. I'm pretty much where I've always been. When I was in the Senate we had a couple people that were really on the left, liberal, and a couple people that were really on the right, conservative, and the rest of us were in the middle. But now the legislature is a lot of people on the left and a lot of people on the right, and very few in the middle. Well I was in the middle then and I'm still in the middle.
Patch: What is your opinion of the process for filling the District 1 seat?
Wagner: Well, it's a process that's going to be changed, I guarantee you that. I think there's going to be some hard and fast rules drawn up. But the process is the process. I'm not going to knock the process. It is what it is and this is what the fathers of the charter, this is what they put in the charter and obviously it's not working in this situation. In the past it's worked. And now it's not working and everybody's criticizing the process. Certainly they're going to have to address this. There's going to have to be some way to fill these council seats so we don't have these voids in the representation. But I'll tell you this, Linda Harris, who was Ed DeGrange's aide when he was in the council and has been Daryl's aide. And I think in the interim she was Dan Klosterman's aide. She's been around there for 14 years and she's doing a good job [of] keeping the office going, doing the constituent service and all the those things that must go on in a council person's office. But she can't vote. ... Until they break this tie and something [happens], the district really hasn't lost anything as far as representation until there's a tie that could be broken if the 1st District were represented. But the constituents are still getting constituent services and Linda Harris is making sure of that.
Patch: If you win, would you seek reelection in 2014?
Wagner: No. No, I won't do that. I'll bridge the gap. I have no interest in getting out there campaigning and knocking on doors and waving to people driving by in their cars. I just thought it was a perfect storm for me as far as knowing Daryl and working with Daryl and knowing what Daryl's interest [were], and then bridging that gap until the next election. And then the people who would want to be candidates the next election would have these three years or two-and-a-half years to put their candidacies together and know that there's going to be an open seat. But I certainly have no desire to run again.
Patch: Is there anything else you'd like people to know about you?
Wagner: I really think that after living here for 67 years, and serving in the legislature for 16, and being in politics since I started the Future Democratic Voters of Anne Arundel County when I was 16 years old, and just being totally active in the community and everything that goes on, I think the people know who I am and what I stand for and what I represent.