A vote for more fair rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment

Record Observer - - Opinion -

In the sum­mer of 2015, I was ap­pointed to a com­mit­tee for the Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments, which rep­re­sents the eight in­cor­po­rated mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Queen Anne’s County and the Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers.

The com­mit­tee was to study and rec­om­mend changes to how cit­i­zens elect Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers, in an ef­fort to ad­dress the turnover of the en­tire Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers af­ter each elec­tion.

The main con­cern of the COG at that time was the lack of knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ence and his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive of the cur­rent Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers.

Upon re­search­ing the method of how County Com­mis­sion­ers are elected in Queen Anne’s County, it was de­ter­mined that of the 17 peo­ple that have served as County Com­mis­sioner dur­ing the last 3 elec­tions, only 1 had been re-elected to of­fice. It was ev­i­dent that the vot­ers of Queen Anne’s County were re­plac­ing their Board of Com­mis­sion­ers ev­ery 4 years. This turnover con­trib­uted to the lack of knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ence and his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive, re­sult­ing in a sub­stan­tial cost to the tax­pay­ers.

Also dur­ing re­search of the is­sue, it was de­ter­mined that 3 of the 4 cur­rent sit­ting com­mis­sion­ers, did not win their own dis­tricts, ar­guably dis­en­fran­chis­ing the vot­ers of those dis­tricts. As a point of in­ter­est, 2 of those 3 com­mis­sion­ers that did not win their own dis­tricts, col­lec­tively spent in ex­cess of $187,000 on their cam­paigns for a po­si­tion that pays $25,000 an­nu­ally.

The Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments voted unan­i­mously to sup­port leg­is­la­tion for a non-bind­ing straw poll that would af­ford Queen Anne’s County cit­i­zens the right to ex­press their opin­ion on how the Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers is elected.

I had the op­por­tu­nity to tes­tify be­fore the Mary­land Legislature in fa­vor of the leg­is­la­tion and quite frankly was amazed at the Queen Anne’s County res­i­dents who signed up in op­po­si­tion, and tes­ti­fied against the bill that pro­vided the res­i­dents of Queen Anne’s County the op­por­tu­nity to ex­press their opin­ion on this very im­por­tant is­sue. Th­ese res­i­dents who ex­pressed their op­po­si­tion in­cluded a cur­rent sit­ting County Com­mis­sioner, 2 for­mer County Com­mis­sion­ers, the Chair­man of the Queen Anne’s County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and the Chair­per­son of the 2001 com­mit­tee that rec­om­mended the method that is cur­rently used to elect Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers.

Here’s the ques­tion; why did th­ese folks op­pose the right of the cit­i­zens to ex­press their opin­ion on this very im­por­tant is­sue? THE COG STRONGLY SUP­PORTS THE PEO­PLES’ RIGHT TO VOTE!

In an ef­fort to ad­dress the afore­men­tioned County Com­mis­sioner turnover is­sue, and be­gin a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion about a more fair rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment, the Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments and I strongly urge every­one to VOTE FOR BAL­LOT QUES­TION ‘A’.

CHAR­LIE RHODES Church Hill TownCom­mis­sioner

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