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Upper Frederick Planning Chair Resigns, Another Loss on New Administration’s Watch

Rick Buckman, a businessman and former Montgomery County commissioner, recently resigned from the Upper Frederick Planning Commission that he chaired.

In a scathing letter to Supervisors Chair Bill Landman and Vice Chair Lisa Fischer, who control the board after their election last fall, Buckman said he’d offered to help them and thought they had found “common ground,” only to discover that was not the case.

Buckman’s resignation comes on the heels of the resignation of the township manager and the supervisors’ decision not to reappoint three other planning board members.

“Unfortunately, your recent decision continues a pattern of your young administration, eliminating anyone with experience and historical knowledge of Upper Frederick,” Buckman wrote. “In your haste to put ‘your people’ in as replacements, you appointed a [alleged] white supremacist as one of the auditors. The Republican Party refused to endorse this individual when he ran, and then when there was an opening, you went ahead and appointed him.

“I brought this up to you privately since this could really make the township look bad. A reporter called me on Friday asking about this, so now it’s out there. You should ask him to resign,” Buckman added.

Bill Landman

Landman and Fischer lost the 2023 Republican primary. They then ran on the  Democratic Party line on the ballot in the fall election and won, with the help of Upper Frederick Democratic Chairman Mark Nolan.

Nolan told DVJournal he supported Landman and Fischer, even though they were lifelong Republicans, and urged other Democrats to vote for them.

“Democrats don’t run for supervisor in Upper Frederick because we will not win. So, we don’t waste time and money because we’re only a third of the population,” said Nolan. “I encouraged Democrats to support Bill Landman and Lisa Fischer, even though they’re Republican. They are better than the other Republicans who were running.”

“We had one group of Republicans that we could not trust, and then there was another group of Republicans who promised to be transparent, honest, and compliant with the law,” said Nolan.

Landman said he’s a “lifelong Republican” and lost the 2023 primary by five votes.

“The Democrats reached out to their party leader and said, ‘We like this guy. He and the Democrats reached out to me and said, ‘We have favoritism in our township. We don’t have anybody to run. You can run in our slot.’”

Landman knocked on a lot of doors and got to know people.

“I just want to do what my community wants,” said Landman. Under the former supervisors, there was “nepotism.” One supervisor had resigned after an ethics violation was lodged. He and Fischer bring “checks and balances” to the rural township.

Lisa Fischer

Landman wrote this in his blog: “As many of you may know, we just about split this town down the middle on the Republican side in the primary election. As it turns out, our message crossed party lines, and I won the Democratic write-in. I have been contacted by the Democratic representative Mark Nolan and have found out I can still be a Republican representing everyone in November.”

Nolan is also the correspondent for the local newspaper, Town & Country, and covers Upper Frederick Township meetings, writing about them and videotaping them.

Logan Molyneux, chair of the journalism department at Temple University, said he was unfamiliar with the situation. However, “the SPJ [Society of Professional Journalists] code of ethics advises that journalists should ‘avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.’”

DVJournal contacted Town & Country’s publisher, Larry Roeder, to ask about Nolan’s dual roles.

Roeder said, “I haven’t received any complaints from residents of Upper Frederick. There was an attempt to complain by one official and one employee last year through a law firm until I went to Upper Frederick Township myself and knocked on about 12 doors randomly to interview residents. I reported the results to the attorney and penned an editorial about my findings. The complaint mysteriously went away. There were incidents, serious in nature, involving at least one township official before Mark began reporting there. It included a resignation. From what I understand, last week’s meeting was quite contentious and I am sure some officials don’t want the recording of their comments to be made public. We have an attorney reviewing them for libelous and slanderous statements.”

Nolan said he’s moved out of Upper Frederick and will be stepping down as the local Democratic chair.

Fischer asked DVJ for a list of questions via email prior to agreeing to an interview but never responded after a list was sent to her.

Supervisor Sean Frisco, who has two years left in his term, is dismayed about the current situation and said that Landman and Fischer are replacing knowledgeable people with others who aren’t.

He also questions whether Nolan’s reporting is unbiased. Frisco claimed Nolan had disrupted township meetings in the past and left essential information out of his articles, such as that Buckman complained that Landman and Fischer had appointed an alleged white supremacist.

About Buckman’s resignation, Frisco said, “I’m really not happy about it because we need people on this board that are going to actually stand up for the community and they’re going to put in someone in who doesn’t.”

“This is why the wrong people get elected, because normal, good people don’t run, knowing they’ll get beat up like this,” said Frisco.

For his part, Landman, 50, says he’s just a neighbor.

“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Republican, Black, White, purple, Brown. You’re my neighbor. And if you’re my neighbor, I’m supposed to help you. You’re supposed to be able to help me. The lady who lives next door to me…she’s in her 80s. I’ve got to cut her grass because that’s what I’m supposed to do. That’s my neighbor. She’s an old lady.”

Landman ran because he believed there was “corruption” in the township.

“I’m just a guy who lives in Upper Frederick, who loves Upper Frederick,” he said. “What Donald Trump would call the swamp, in my opinion, was running the town.”


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