Gover­nor OKs bill call­ing for straw poll on com­mis­sion

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

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.

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