Preserve good governance; vote against Question A
By now, most people in Queen Anne’s County have probably heard about the “Straw Poll” concerning district voting which will appear on the local ballot for the upcoming election.
Although disguised as an effort to give people a greater voice, in reality voting by district erodes the democratic process by limiting citizen votes to two County Commissioners instead of five.
We’ve been down this road before. Back in 2004, disgraced Commissioner Ben Cassell attempted the same program to take away citizen votes. The Bay Times wrote a well reasoned editorial on why district voting was not in the citizen interest, and properly called it “a step backwards.”
Much like 2004, the “voting by district” scheme is being pushed by developers and real estate interests who were unsuccessful in getting “their” candidates elected in 2014. Instead, four of the five elected Commissioners financed their own campaigns and, therefore, were not beholden to the developer/real estate groups. So, if you’re a developer, the fastest way to correct a “problem” that doesn’t exist for 99 percent of Queen Anne’s County citizens, is to take away the PEOPLE’s voice by taking away their votes.
The “voting by district” effort is being led by developersupported Commissioner (Jim) Moran, (who received tens of thousands of dollars in special interest developer money during the last election campaign – more than any other candidate), so it’s no surprise where his allegiance rests. Commissioner Moran is simply supporting his supporters who are intent on paving over Queen Anne’s County, plastering our small towns with new housing developments, and making all this happen with the approval of those Town and County Commissioners whom they have in their pockets.
The current system of allowing ALL citizens to vote for ALL Commissioners is good democracy and good governance because it provides the proper checks and balances against bad policy being pushed in one district over another. District voting on the other hand carries substantial risks because of the potential to have Commissioners trading votes for self-interested projects instead of being responsible to the greater interests of ALL citizens whom they serve.
Preserve good governance and democracy by voting AGAINST district voting in Queen Anne’s County.
Millington too large to have everybody directly answerable to all voters. Hence, a representative system is necessary to insure that things actually get done. At the County and Municipal level, issues are more local and affect people throughout the county in most cases and not just those in a given district. For this reason all the commissioners should be accountable to all the voters instead of just a few.
“Back Room Deals” can and do occur at the State and Federal level all the time and are usually dealt with by both professional and citizen lobbyists. Why would we want to open ourselves to the expense of this type of system at the county level. I, myself, am a “grass roots” lobbyist for several nonprofit groups, so I have first hand knowledge of how this system works.
Currently, we have what I feel is a good group of Commissioners who are approachable by anyone in the county regardless of what district you might live in. As a wise old man once told me, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Our current system is working well, so I urge all voters in Queen Anne’s County to vote NO on question A on November 8th.
The ballot issue known as “STRAW POLL BALLOT QUESTION A” proposes that QA County voters change the way they vote for Commissioners from the current system where all voters vote for all Commissioners (but 4 have to reside in their home district) to a system where voters will vote for only the Commissioner in their home district plus one Commissioner at Large. Thus a voter could only vote for 2 Commissioners, whereas now each of us can vote for all 5.
I think this has all kinds of negative implications. It is critical for us to understand that our Commissioners exercise both legislative and executive powers in QA County. (There are no checks and balances between our legislative and executive branches). The Commissioners’ powers include setting tax rates, controlling all County Staff, County services, County infrastructure, Board appointments, and ultimately all County government decisions. Why would any of us want to reduce our ability to hold our elected government leaders accountable? But that’s what this proposal will do if passed and adopted by the Commissioners.
I do not believe this is a partisan issue, but QA party leaders have taken opposing views. It’s interesting that the QA Council of Governments (the independent municipalities/ towns) came up with the proposal; the Democratic Central Committee supports it, as do some major influential developers! The QA Republican Central Committee is strongly against it, as are a number of Kent Island citizens and other citizens from around the County. If you live outside of a municipality, especially if you have Growth Areas in your district, you stand to lose big with this proposal. You could have the majority of Commissioners (3) making critical decisions about you and your district, and you could never vote them in or out. They would never have to be accountable to you and you could never hold them accountable! Think about that.
This is not what democracy is about. It would be a major step backwards for the citizens of Queen’s County. Vote AGAINST Ballot Question A. Protect your right to hold all of your elected leaders accountable.