Daniel Medinger isn't used to being the center of attention. The former journalist made a career for decades as an observer and purveyor of the news.
But Monday morning, he stepped into the spotlight with an announcement that he will run for state Senate in District 9, which includes the western county, parts of Ellicott City and southern Carroll County. Long-time District 9A delegate Gail Bates, a Republican, announced her candidacy for the District 9 Senate seat in July.
District 13 delegate Guy Guzzone and Maryland Senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. introduced Medinger at the campaign kickoff at Kelsey's Restaurant in Ellicott City.
"We are so honored to have a blue-chipper like Dan run in this district," Miller said. "He can be successful but it's going to take everybody coming together to make this happen."
The event was attended by more than 40 people, including local politicians and political hopefuls such as Maryland Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Jen Terrasa, Tom Coale, Clarence Lam and Jon Weinstein.
This is the first time Medinger, 61, a Democrat from Ellicott City, has run for public office. After leaving his job at the Catholic Review, where he was associate publisher and editor for 24 years, he bought the media company Advertising Media Plus in 2009.
At the rally, he said he thought the 9th District needed "a new and positive voice."
Medinger said improving communication among the government and citizenry is a bedrock of his vision for the state.
"I think we need to have a government that's more open and more transparent than it is, that does a better job of communicating with its citizens," Medinger said in an interview last week. "I'm hoping I can bring my skills as a communicator to the Senate to bridge some of the disconnect between government and its people."
He envisions using the internet and smartphone technology to make public information more accessible.
For example, signs for public works projects could include QR codes, those pixelated black-and-white squares similar to bar codes that, when scanned by a smartphone, pull up a website for more information.
"Right now I can find that information, but I have to go to the courthouse and dig through documents," he said. "We function like it's the 1950s. It's 2013."
Medinger doesn't think there's a resistance in government to adopting more tech-savvy tools — he sees it more as an opportunity that hasn't yet been considered.
He witnessed the evolution of the media firsthand. "The first newspaper I worked at literally had hot lead," he said. "I've been part of this communication revolution that's happened ... Fortunately I've been able to keep up with that." At Advertising Media Plus, he advises clients on the best conduit for their message, whether it's a Facebook page, website or six-panel brochure.
As a small-business owner whose fledgling company prospered in the turbulent economic environment of the recession, he says he has a record of fiscal success.
"I have real-life experience with creating jobs, paying good wages and keeping people happy," he said.
Medinger says he is in many ways a fiscal conservative. "If we collect a dollar worth of taxes, we owe a dollar worth of services," he said.
And he thinks the state can find more innovative ways to get more value from each dollar collected.
"Can we provide services in a more cost effective way?" he said. "I'm confident that can be done. We've got such a great state with people with high education."
He hopes he can get more citizens involved in government. And to do that, he thinks it's time to take the podium.
"[As a journalist], you go to events and you don't want to create a stir," he said. "Now I'm doing the exact opposite."