Kai is 59 years old. He established a life-long connection to Frederick County as a young boy, visiting his grandparents’ old farm in the Catoctin Mountains. Kai and his family moved to Frederick eighteen years ago, and now live in northern Frederick County. In many ways Kai has been engaged in the civic life of Frederick County since moving here to stay in 1995. In 2006, he was elected to the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners, where he served through 2010.
Kai and his wife, Kirsten, celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary in August (2017). They have two sons, Tor, who is 26 and attended Carleton College in Minnesota, and Leif, who is almost 21 and in his junior year at the University of Maryland. Both attended from Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick.
Kai left the region for a while, attending college in a small Minnesota town set amid endless farms, then living in Minnesota and California for a number of years before moving to Frederick in 1995.
Since then, he has been actively involved in our community in many ways, including a four year term as one of five members of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners.
Beginning in autumn of 2003, until he announced his candidacy for the Board of County Commissioners, Kai wrote a bi-weekly column for the Frederick County Gazette. Before that, he wrote a bi-weekly column for the Frederick News-Post for a year. You can read any or all of Kai’s columns here.
In 2002, Kai was appointed by the Board of County Commissioners to the Citizens Zoning Review Committee, which met every other week for a year and a half to review the current Zoning Ordinance, the proposed “Public Hearing Draft Zoning Ordinance” (January 2002), and any recommendations presented during previous Zoning Ordinance update efforts, and to assess the documents, correspondence, testimony, etc., and provide the Board of Frederick County Commissioners with recommendations as to amendments, revisions or the re-writing of specific sections of the ordinance.
For almost eight years, beginning in 2003, Kai was a member of the Frederick County Parks and Recreation Commission, which is composed of 8 members appointed by the Board of County Commissioners and one county commissioner who serves as a liaison. For nearly four years he served as a citizen appointed to the committee, then served as the liaison from the BOCC for four more.
Between the autumn of 2004 and running for county commissioner, Kai served as the Director of the Frederick Regional Action Network. The non-profit organization “promoted common sense solutions to persistent challenges associated with growth and development.”
Kai also served as co-chair of the Western Maryland Committee of Reality Check Plus. Reality Check Plus was a series of growth visioning exercises that were held in four different regions of Maryland in the spring and summer of 2006. Business, civic and elected leaders from throughout Maryland participated in Reality Check exercises, which were designed to help the state make smart choices about where and how to accommodate the new residents and jobs expected to come to Maryland over the next 25 years.
For the last seven years, Kai has been the Director of Envision Frederick County, a non-profit, non-partisan organization founded on the principle that diversity, informed public discourse and active engagement of individuals and groups in our civic life is essential to our mutual well-being and prosperity. Envision Frederick County is dedicated to enhancing the social, economic and environmental vitality and sustainability of our community.
Also, over the last three years, Kai has been a host on “Eye on our Community,” a local talk radio about show discussing issues, events and more with community leaders and others in Frederick County. You can find a link to most of those discussions and interviews here.
During the current administration, Kai served for about two years on the Energy and Environment Working Group as part of the Livable Frederick Comprehensive Planning process, and as a member of the Solid Waste (“What’s Next?”) Steering Committee.
For about fifteen years, Kai spent a lot of time coaching youth soccer and basketball in Frederick County, and still plays soccer and basketball every week.
He is also a serious amateur photographer, whose images of Frederick County have been exhibited in various venues in the county, and who has instructed a few one-day Nature Photography classes through the extension programs at Frederick Community College.
Addition information about the four years Kai served as a Frederick County Commissioner is found below.
Part of Kai’s record as a member of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners
The following is a list of some of the highlights and a selection of other items from the four years Kai served as a county commissioner. The information provides a good sense of his concerns and priorities, as a commissioner and/or as the Director of Envision Frederick County.
BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
Each county commissioner serves as the liaison or point person to a dozen or so different boards and commissions. Among others, Commissioner Hagen served on the following throughout his four year term:
- Planning Commission
- Parks and Recreation Commission
- Agricultural Business Council
- Affordable Housing Council
- Solid Waste Advisory Committee
- Frederick County Tourism Council
FREDERICK COUNTY GOVERNMENT
- Support for the Ethics Ordinance.
- Support for the Lobbying Reform improvements.
- Online Streaming Video (live and archived) for all public meetings of the Board of County Commissioners, as well as meetings of the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals, as well as some other meetings
BUDGETS AND FINANCE
- Responsibly balanced budgets during challenging times, with NO TAX INCREASE (was one of three commissioners that committed an extra hundred hours or so during the FY2011 budget process to meet with Division Directors, Department Heads and others, to thoroughly review budgets, program by program, as part of our effort to make significant reductions in a careful manner).
- Reduced county spending by 9.25% over past two fiscal years (this is roughly a 20% reduction in the non-school part of the county budget)
- Upgrade to the county’s Bond Rating (achieved AAA with Fitch Rating Agency)
- Opposed the one-time cut in the 2010 Tax Equity payment to county municipalities
- Support for the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, including the Small Business Development Center, the Fast Track Program (which is an economic development tool used to expedite projects through the development process, while adhering to all established standards); the award-winning Business and Employment Center; the Agricultural Business Council (on which I have served as BOCC liaison); the Small Business Loan Fund and much more.
- Support for FITCI (the Frederick Innovative Technology Center Inc.). More than 200 direct new jobs have been created through this business incubator.
- Support for the preservation of the Arts and Entertainment Tax District (in the City Frederick)
- Support for the Redevelopment Tax Credit programs to fill vacant space.
- Support for Frederick County’s strong participation in the BRAC Action Plan (Base Realignment and Closing)
- From 2005 to 2009, Frederick County has been the 6th highest number of new jobs created among counties in Maryland. Frederick County was one of only ten counties in Maryland that experienced positive job growth over that period of time.
- Served for the entire term as the liaison to the Frederick County Tourism Council.
LAND USE: PLANNING AND ZONING
- Re-write of the 2006 New Market Region Plan
- Update of the Thurmont Region Plan
- Development and adoption of the new and updated Frederick County Comprehensive Plan
(Among other things, the 2010 Comprehensive Plan reduced sprawl and focused growth in traditional growth areas where infrastructure exists or can be provided more efficiently. It protected rural areas and historic, cultural and environmental elements of the county. The plan responsibly accommodated residential and business growth to meet the state’s population projects for the county over the next 15 to 20 years, including 3,000 acres of vacant zoned land available for business development. It also included new Priority Redevelopment Areas and Priority Preservation Areas in a number of productive agricultural areas of the county. NOTE: Very unfortunately, the land use designations and zoning map that implemented the plan was obliterated by the current Board of County Commissioners.)
- Supported the county-wide Stream Buffer Ordinance.
- Reduced by approximately half the development potential of the county’s Resource Conservation zones.
- Numerous improvements to the zoning ordinance to support agriculture and farmers in Frederick County.
- In conjunction with changes on county land use plans, we re-focused county priorities in our Capital Improvement Plan, emphasizing the rehabilitation and renovation of old schools that had suffered years of neglect as capital funds went to build many new schools to accommodate rapid residential growth. This commitment included the renovation of West Frederick Middle School, the replacement of Linganore High School, the additions to Carroll Manor Elementary School and Walkersville Elementary School, while also moving up or beginning work on other old schools, such as Lincoln Elementary School.
- Achieved long-term goal of school capacity at 90% systemwide.
- Prioritized funding for education by fully funding “Maintenance of Effort.” (With the substantial reductions we made in other parts of the county budget, the share of the county operating budget supporting Frederick County Public Schools rose from 50% to 58%.
- Improved the school component of the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (a phasing mechanism established to ensure that new development was served with needed infrastructure).
- Committed $2 million to advance the US 15/Monocacy Blvd Interchange (which was listed as our number one priority to keep high on the state’s list of local projects to fund).
- Improved the traffic component of the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.
- The revised New Market Region Plan and the newly updated Comprehensive Plan pulled back growth boundaries to reduce sprawl, reducing the need for expensive new roads and the demand on some of our already congested roads and intersections.
ENVIRONMENT and SUSTAINABILITY
- Established the Office of Environmental Sustainability and Sustainability Commission (This was done without adding any additional costs to county taxpayers. And, in fact, the work of the office has been responsible for significant saving in energy consumption and other areas.)
- Established a county Energy Conservation Plan (which includes a goal of 50% renewable energy).
- Purchased a number of hybrid vehicles in Fleet Services, and two hybrid buses for county Transit services.
- Supported the strengthening of the Frederick County Forest Resource Ordinance.
- To date, have achieved an overall 10% reduction in county fuel consumption.
- Converted the Park and Recreation Department (which was buried within the Division of Public Works) into a an upper level division of county government, and have worked to expand its scope and mission.
- Installed a Solar Water Heating Project at the Frederick County Detention Center
- Applied LEED building standards for the new Brunswick Branch Library and the Catoctin Creek Nature Center (opened in 2011) which also has a green roof and geo-thermal heating.
- Supported amendment to zoning to better enable solar and wind systems for on-site generation and use (this helped county residents qualify for state and federal tax credits and incentives. It was a good step, but I think the result was overly restrictive, and I supported broadening the scale of the systems that are permitted, with appropriate setbacks, etc.).
- Introduced Single Stream Recycling to all Single Family Residential Households (though I advocated and support finding a way to do this with our local, private haulers, rather than a single, large out-of-state company).
- Development of an award-winning Composting Operation (currently for yard waste, not food waste).
- Landfill Gas to Energy Project completed (which captures most of the methane – a powerful greenhouse gas – produced in the landfill and generate electricity and revenue).
WASTE-TO-ENERGY / INCINERATOR
- For all four years as a county commissioner, Kai actively opposed the 1,500 tons per day, regional “Waste-to-Energy” incinerator. This extraordinarily expensive, economically-risky and environmentally-irresponsible project was approved in spite of his objections and without his support. Kai continued to actively opposed the project after his term as a commissioner, and was very pleased, another four years later, when the project was finally rejected (largely because Carroll County — our 40% partner — pulled out of the project, leaving the last Board of County Commissioners with no practical choice but to reverse course).