Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Charter Board Election A Constitutional Right

George Wenschhof

The push back on a special election for members of the Frederick County Maryland charter writing board has been intense and has led the print media in the community to editorialize on the issue.

The expressed feeling being the appointment process was open and transparent. Future charter board meetings will also be open to the public and coupled with the estimated cost for a special election of $250,000, the consensus is there is no need for an election,

In addition, an added argument against a special election for members of the charter writing board is the voters have the final say on whether a change to charter government will take place when the issue is placed on the 2012 general election ballot.

So, the argument continues, why have a special election for members of the committee, when if you do not like what is written, you can vote against it.

As one who applied for consideration to serve on the charter writing board, I share the view the selection process was a transparent effort and the member selection appears to have been a genuine effort to have the board members represent different segments of the population as well as different geographic locations in Frederick county. A bipartisan board which represents the community and who also come from different locations within the county is what I been calling for in columns for quite some time.

While, I may question why certain individuals were interviewed over others and why certain applicants were not selected, it is clear an open process was followed.

Providing the opportunity for members of the community to weigh in as the charter is being written is another long position I have espoused. My belief being the failure of the charter to pass in past attempts in the county were a result of a lack of understanding of what charter government is and the lack of input from the community in the writing of the document.

Again, my wish for public involvement in the process has been taken up by the charter writing board.

However, I stop short of opposing an effort by some to gather the necessary petitions to force a special election for the members of the charter writing board.

Changing the form of government is a significant action. So significant, that when the Maryland constitution section on establishing a charter form of government was written, a provision was included to allow for the opportunity of a special election for the members of the charter writing board.

The eight individuals who wish to serve on the charter writing board have until May 9 to obtain two thousand signatures, when verified by the local board of elections, will force a special election which must be held within ninety days.

They have the constitutional right to pursue this election. While, I have not heard a strong enough argument from any of the aspiring members of the board for me to sign the petition, I do not oppose their effort.

To date, the argument for a special election appears to mirror the 2010 Frederick county commission election with a emphasis on "growth" versus "no-growth" issues being the prevalent theme.

In all likelihood, should a special election take place, some current members would be replaced. Only two of the appointed board members and one of the aspiring board members have run for public office and won.

Outside of political wonks like myself, most voters are not following the effort to change to a charter form of government. Many of the appointed and aspiring board members are not known by voters.

An election may serve a valuable purpose in bringing attention to this issue. Candidates would hopefully provide their reason for wanting to serve on the board which would provide much needed education on the topic.

If a special election is held, I look forward to hearing from the candidates on why I should vote for them.

Obtaining two thousand signatures over a sixty day period by just the eight aspiring candidates is not a difficult task. One would believe a directed door to door effort would result in the necessary signatures.

If they fail in their effort, the question may be how serious of an issue was the selection process to the voters?

Staying with the current appointed board should also turn out well for the voters as their input will be received and the meetings will be open to the public.

Ultimately, voters will have the final say on charter government in Frederick county and that is how it should be.


To receive "Daily Email Updates' from Air-it-out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

No comments: