Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments pushes for straw poll

Record Observer - - Front Page - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY ck­ersey@ches­pub.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments con­tin­ues to push for by-district vot­ing, which is a ques­tion on the up­com­ing elec­tion bal­lot.

At its meet­ing on Wed­nes­day, Sept. 14, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from towns through­out Queen Anne’s County voted in fa­vor of the by-district straw poll. In at­ten­dance were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from town gov­ern­ments in Sudlersville, Bar­clay, Church Hill, Queen Anne, Cen­tre­ville and Queen­stown.

The is­sue will ap­pear as a non-bind­ing ques­tion on the next elec­tion’s bal­lot, ask­ing if the four county com­mis­sion­ers should be elected only by the vot­ers of the district in which the can­di­date re­sides. The fifth com­mis­sioner will re­main elected at large.

If en­acted, the voter would have two county com­mis­sioner rep­re­sen­ta­tives, one from the district in which the voter lives and the at­large com­mis­sioner.

County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran, who also at­tended the meet­ing, spoke in fa­vor of the pro­posal. He said peo­ple can find can­di­dates to run and win by spend­ing large amounts of money. “The process is right now you can buy th­ese seats,” Mo­ran said.

He also ar­gued that, by keep­ing the same

com­mis­sion­ers though dif­fer­ent elec­tions, it pro­vides a con­ti­nu­ity to the process. Also, hav­ing five in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion­ers forces them to work with each other, he said.

Mo­ran and oth­ers at the meet­ing en­cour­aged peo­ple to join the Face­book site called Cit­i­zens for Equal Rep­re­sen­ta­tion which pro­motes by-district vot­ing. The Face­book site takes the place of a flyer, Mo­ran said.

As for cit­i­zens who don’t have the in­ter­net, peo­ple at the meet­ing sug­gested get­ting fund­ing for putting up signs and hand­ing out fly­ers.

Ge­orge “Smokey” Sigler, pres­i­dent of the County Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments, held up a gi­ant poster board, which en­cour­aged peo­ple to vote in fa­vor of the pro­posal. The poster had an X on it to show in fa­vor, but one per­son at the meet­ing sug­gested putting a check mark there in­stead. Also, some mem­bers no­ticed sev­eral ty­pos in the poster.

An­other mem­ber had an ex­am­ple flyer to hand out.

This isn’t the first time the Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments dis­cussed this is­sue and ways to get spread the word. At the meet­ing in June, the mem­bers had a sim­i­lar dis­cus­sion.

At the meet­ing on Sept. 14, Sigler an­nounced that the League of Women Vot­ers of Queen Anne’s County will hold two fo­rums in Oc­to­ber where the is­sue will be dis­cussed.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion has sched­uled a pub­lic informational fo­rum at 6:30 p.m. at Tues­day, Oct. 4, at the Sud­er­sville Se­nior Cen­ter and at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Li­brary on Kent Is­land.

There will be a mod­er­a­tor and pan­elists, pro and con, at the fo­rums, and the pub­lic can ask ques­tions, said Barbara Sharkey, pres­i­dent of the county’s League of Women Vot­ers or­ga­ni­za­tion. The group prefers that mem­bers of the pub­lic not give an opin­ion, but rather ask ques­tions, and no lob­by­ing is per­mit­ted in­side the place where the fo­rums are held, she said.

Sigler en­cour­aged mem­bers of the County Coun­cil on Gov­ern­ments to at­tend the fo­rums and ask ques­tions.

The is­sue will ap­pear as Ques­tion A on the bal­lot dur­ing the next elec­tion. It asks, For or Against, for the fol­low­ing ques­tion: “Do you fa­vor chang­ing the method of se­lec­tion of four of the five mem­bers of the Queen Anne’s County Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers from the cur­rent method of be­ing elected at large by the vot­ers of Queen Anne’s County, with one mem­ber re­sid­ing in each of the four elec­tion districts, to a new method where each of the four mem­bers is elected by only the vot­ers of the district in which the mem­ber re­sides and the fifth mem­ber is elected at large and may re­side in any district of the County?”

The gen­eral elec­tion is Tues­day, Nov. 8, but early vot­ing is from Thursday, Oct. 27, through Thursday, Nov. 3.

PHOTO BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY/CK­ERSEY@CHES­PUB.COM

Ge­orge “Smokey” Sigler, pres­i­dent of the Queen Anne’s County Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments, holds up a mock poster ad­vo­cat­ing pas­sage of the straw poll this com­ing elec­tion.

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