Governor OKs bill calling for straw poll on commission
QUEEN ANNE — Gov. Larry Hogan signed House Bill 1344 on Tuesday, May 10, clearing the way for a question on the method of electing Queen Anne’s County commissioners to appear on the ballot in the November general election.
The bill — sponsored by Del. Steve Arentz, R36-Queen Anne’s — overwhelmingly passed the General Assembly and calls for a non-binding straw poll on the Queen Anne’s County ballot asking for voters’ opinions on whether commissioners should be elected by district.
Since 2002, there have been five commissioners — one elected at large and four others living in specific districts — all four of whom are elected by voters countywide.
The Queen Anne’s County Council of Governments, which has spearheaded the move for a straw poll, envisions four commissioner districts where people living in a district would elect only a person from that district and one at-large commissioner. For example, a commissioner would have to live in District 1 and be voted on only by people in District 1.
At its meeting in Queen Anne the day after the legislation was signed, the COG met to map strategy for informing the voting public about what the straw poll is designed to do and for getting voters to the polls in November. Normally, the COG suspends meetings in June, July, and August, but has decided to continue meeting those months this year to work on the straw poll issue.
OTHER BUSINESS Sudlersville Town Commissioner Bill Faust told the meeting that town officials had recently had a walkthrough of its wastewater plant, which he described as being more than 99 percent completed. He said a new pumping station has been installed connecting to the plant.
Faust said the town is expecting word on funding for the sewer line to the town of Barclay and hoped that could be moved forward soon. Barclay Commissioner Brian DeMoss said Sudlersville officials are doing a “great job ... it’s just time-consuming.” The line will be about five miles long and will run down Route 313 linking the two towns.
Queen Anne Mayor Randy Esty said his town is looking at building a town office, but that the project is still in the early stages. The idea is to take down an old building in the center of town and erect a new building for a town hall. Costs are currently being determined.
County Commissioner Jim Moran updated the COG on several projects. He said the county has advertised for bids to build a new courthouse, and he hopes the bids will be in around the end of May. He said bids are also being sought for starting work on the Southern Kent Island sewer line, and he expects those bids to be returned in mid-to-late June.
Moran also briefed the COG on the formation of a task force exploring the possibility of bringing fiber optic communications to Queen Anne’s County. He said Kent County is in the process of running fiber optic to every structure in the county, no matter where it’s located, and that’s what’s envisioned for Queen Anne’s.
The next COG meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 7, in Centreville.