COG making plans to promote straw poll idea
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.