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Attorney general rules appointment of Frederick's Young invalid

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler handed a victory to Frederick County's new Democratic chief executive Tuesday as he ruled that the county commissioners' decision to appoint her defeated Republican foe to the county Planning Commission was invalid.

Gansler, in his final weeks in office, ruled that the Nov. 24 appointment of former commission President Blaine Young violated laws against one person holding two offices at the same time.

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The ruling had been sought by County Executive Jan Gardner, who defeated Young Nov. 4 and objected to the five-year appointment by the outgoing, all-Republican county commission. Frederick switched from a commissioner form of government to a charter government with an elected county executive as of Dec. 1.

The Frederick County attorney determined that Young's appointment to the planning body at a time while he still sat on the commission violated a ban in the Maryland Declaration of Rights on holding two "office of profit" simultaneously. The Attorney General's Office upheld the county attorney's opinion and ruled that Young was ineligible to be appointed as a citizen member of the commission.

The commission's action in appointing Young was seen as a challenge to Gardner and an attempt to keep the defeated Republican in an influential position in the county. Gardner and Young have long been at odds over planning and development issues, with Young leading the county's pro-growth faction.

The ruling is yet another political setback for Young, who was once viewed as a potential Republican candidate for governor. After deciding that the chances of a Republican winning that office were slim, he decided to seek the county executive post. He lost the office to Gardner by a 54-46 percent margin even as Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan was cruising to a 63-35 percent victory in the county over Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.

Young could not be reached Tuesday to comment.

Gardner issued a statement thinking Gansler, a Democrat, for the expedited opinion.

"This is a victory today for transparency, open government, and the people of Frederick County," she said.

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