COG mak­ing plans to pro­mote straw poll idea

Record Observer - - News - By JACK SHAUM jshaum@kibay­times.com

QUEEN­STOWN — Mem­bers of the Queen Anne’s County Coun­cil of Govern­ments who pushed for a straw poll on the Novem­ber bal­lot seek­ing pub­lic opin­ion on the method of elect­ing county com­mis­sion­ers are now mov­ing to the next level in their ef­forts.

COG Pres­i­dent Ge­orge “Smokey” Sigler told the group at its April 13 meet­ing in Queen­stown that the next ob­jec­tive is to get the word out about the straw poll in ad­vance of the Novem­ber gen­eral elec­tion.

“I think the big thing we re­ally need to fo­cus on is that ev­ery­one un­der­stands ex­actly what the straw vote is,” he said.

Leg­is­la­tion passed in this year’s ses­sion of the Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly will put a straw poll on the fall bal­lot ask­ing county vot­ers’ opinions on whether com- mis­sion­ers should be elected by district. The straw bill would be non-bind­ing and is “ad­vi­sory only,” ac­cord­ing to House Bill 1344, which au­tho­rizes it.

“There were no dis­sent­ing votes across the bridge, and that’s a very sell-able thing to the citizens,” Sigler said, re­fer­ring to unan­i­mous ap­proval of the leg­is­la­tion in An­napo­lis.

A COG com­mit­tee that has been study­ing the mat­ter for nearly a year will con­tinue to lay the ground­work for tak­ing the mat­ter be­fore the pub­lic.

Sigler said the COG would pro­mote town hall meet­ings in each com­mis­sioner district to give res­i­dents the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in a dis­cus­sion about the sub­ject. He also be­lieves the Queen Anne’s County League of Women Vot­ers is in­ter­ested in hold­ing some pub­lic meet­ings. So­cial me­dia was sug­gested as an­other out­let.

Queen­stown Town Com- mis­sioner Tom Wil­lis said putting in­for­ma­tion in town news­let­ters mailed out reg­u­larly to town res­i­dents would be ben­e­fi­cial. “It wouldn’t reach every­body, but would reach the ones in our im­me­di­ate vicin­ity,” he said.

Church Hill Town Com­mis­sioner Char­lie Rhodes said the COG should “start reach­ing out to some or­ga­ni­za­tions that are in­ter­ested” in the sub­ject and said he’s sure there are those that are in­ter­ested.

County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran, who is a COG mem­ber and a backer of elec­tion by district, said, “This in­for­ma­tion needs to get out there as to why this is bet­ter.” He re­it­er­ated ear­lier com­ments that ev­ery­one needs to get out and vote on this is­sue.

Mo­ran an­tic­i­pates a strong cam­paign in op­po­si­tion. He said, “The peo­ple that will be op­posed to this have very deep pock­ets.”

County Com­mis­sioner Steve Wil­son, who tes­ti­fied against the straw poll bill in An­napo­lis and is op­posed to elec­tion by district, was asked Mon­day if he be­lieves there will be or­ga­nized op­po­si­tion to the bal­lot ques­tion be­tween now and Novem­ber.

“You can bet some­body — I don’t know who — will push back against it. I in­tend to be op­posed to it, but I will not stand on a street cor­ner wav­ing a sign,” Wil­son said.

He said it “fright­ens me that this ques­tion is dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand” and that the cur­rent sys­tem of govern­ment in Queen Anne’s Coun- ty has worked suc­cess­fully

The re­cently passed leg­is­la­tion di­rects that “the Queen Anne’s County Board of Elec­tions and the Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers of Queen Anne’s County shall do those things nec­es­sary and proper to place this ques­tion on the bal­lot pre­pared for the Novem­ber gen­eral elec­tion of 2016.”

The straw poll it­self won’t make any changes to county govern­ment. It only lets govern­ment know what the citizens want.

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