Showing posts with label Carroll Co 5 Commissioner Dist plan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carroll Co 5 Commissioner Dist plan. Show all posts

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One-year anniversary of the five-commissioner form of government approaching in Carroll County

One-year anniversary of the five-commissioner form of government approaching in Carroll County

Kevin Dayhoff

November 9, 2011

With the one-year anniversary of the five-commissioner form of government approaching in Carroll County, a number of readers have asked a few questions.

I do not know if I am going to write a “one-year review” or not. However, to answer a few questions from Facebook friends…

I episodically cover Carroll County government. However, my coverage is not consistent because I have colleagues who do and I’m too-frequently conflicted-out.

I did write some about the change to the five-commissioner form of government. As for your question, “Why did they go for district commissioners?” see:

The debate and discussion over the five-commissioner form of government began as a public issue around 1998. Although it could be argued that the discussion really began many years earlier than that… The first time I ever heard of the idea was in the mid-to-late 1960s…

From 1998 to 2010, the debate was all-consuming for all-things government, and yet for most of those years I was an elected official and I avoided the debate like the plague. Only about 20 percent of my constituency really had any opinion, the other 80 percent either was oblivious to the discussions or really-really did not give a rat’s behind…

In response to your question, “How is it working?” I guess that depends on who you ask. Ask five Carroll countians that question and you will get seven and a half answers. My concern was that the best interests of the county would be divided into five balkanized states. That has, in my view, not happened. Perhaps it has not happened because of the mixture the voters put into office.

Nevertheless, I still would prefer that the five candidates come from each of the five districts but the entire county still vote for all five candidates for office. As it is at present, each candidate is over only voted upon by a particular district.

In the end, I would still prefer charter government. In the interest of full disclosure, I was on the committee for charter government in the late 1980s. That effort failed…

You asked, “Any districts short on candidates? Any overloaded with candidates?” See: Carroll County Board of Elections list of candidates for Carroll County Commissioner:

There was certainly no shortage of candidates and if anything, there were an awful lot of candidates. Whether or not any of the districts were overloaded, I’m of the mind that local government can never have too many folks running for office. It’s getting well-qualified folks to run that is the greater question.



Carroll County Board of Elections list of candidates for Carroll County Commissioner:

Carroll County Maryland, commissioners, government, governance, elections, charter, Kevin Dayhoff

Labels: Maryland Municipal League see MML, MML, MML Municipal League

For more information on the 2011 Fall Maryland Municipal
League’s Fall Legislative Conference at the Cambridge Maryland Hyatt Regency
Chesapeake Bay, including a “Complete 2011 Fall Conference Information (.pdf)”
packet, visit the MML website at


Kevin Dayhoff Soundtrack: Kevin Dayhoff Art:

My columns appear in the copy of the Baltimore Sunday Sun that is distributed in Carroll County:

Kevin Dayhoff Soundtrack: Kevin Dayhoff Art:
My columns appear in the copy of the Baltimore Sunday Sun that is distributed in Carroll County:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

20080109 Westminster Eagle: Districting plan faces hearing in January by Bob Allen

Westminster Eagle: Districting plan faces hearing in January by Bob Allen

Posted January 17, 2008

01/09/08 By Bob Allen

Bill would create four districts, one at-large

The latest proposal to expand the Board of County Commissioners from three to five members will be open for public comment at a hearing set for Jan. 19 in Westminster.

State Del. Donald Elliott (R-Dist. 4B) said he co-created the plan with State Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Dist. 9). It calls for four commissioners to be elected by districts with a fifth elected at-large, or county-wide.

The at-large commissioner would serve as president of the Board of Commissioners.

Under the plan, Carroll voters would vote for two commissioner candidates, one running in their district and one at-large.

On the eve of the General Assembly opening in Annapolis this week, Elliott said he believes his proposal has enough bipartisan support to get it through the assembly. A similar plan failed to make it to the floor in 2006, mostly because of disagreement over how and where district lines should be drawn.

"Last (time) a lot of people felt the (commissioner) districts should align with state legislative districts," Elliott said. "This time, that has been done to the extent that it could be done."

The failed proposal also differed in that it called for five commissioners, all elected by district. That's what voters selected in a 2004 referendum.

Elliott said his four-district plan is a compromise that carves out districts as equitably as possible, based on population, a per capita balance between registered Republicans, Democrats and independents and geography.

"The bottom line is, we are trying to make a compromise with this," Elliott said. "I feel very strongly that with this county growing the way it is, a change in governance is in order."

Skeptics have said the new proposal should not go forward because it differs from the five-district plan chosen in the 2004 referendum -- and as a result may eventually be overturned in court.

Elliott says his proposal does not need to go to referendum and is on solid legal ground.

"We're not violating the public's wishes," he said. "We have checked with the Attorney General's office and we have a written opinion from them that this is not in violation of the referendum and that we are not doing anything illegal.

"For some of these people (who oppose his plan), they are using that (argument) as a way to try to kill this bill, as in the past," he added. "There are still people who want three commissioners and others who still want five at-large commissioners.

Janet Jump, former president of the Board of Elections who also served on the committee that drew up the initial districting plan, likes Elliott's revised plan and thinks a commissioner-by-district system is long overdue.

"Carroll County is very diverse; South Carroll is a world away from North Carroll," Jump said. "These (sectional) differences deserve to be honored and recognized in running the county government, and the present system doesn't do this."

"I think creating districts is the only way we can recognize these differences," she said.

Elliott said his plan is modeled after Charles County and it works effectively there.

"I've talked to people in Charles County and other counties (where the board of commissioners has been expanded) and they told me it does make a difference," he said.

The new five-commissioner plan has been submitted to members of Carroll's delegation to Annapolis. The delegation will vote on it sometime after taking public comment at the Jan. 19 hearing.

"If approved by the delegation, it will be dropped in the hopper and be voted on by the Maryland General Assembly," he said. "Hopefully this time we have bipartisan support we need."

The public hearing on the proposed five-commissioner plan and other local bills proposed for the 2008 General Assembly is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Jan. 19, in Room 003 of the County Office Building, 225 N. Center St., Westminster.


Friday, November 10, 2006

20061110 Is it time for Charter government in Frederick County?

Is it time for Charter government in Frederick County?

And for that matter, Carroll County too?

November 10th, 2006

In Thursday’s November 9th, 2006 edition of the Gazette, there is an article by Sherry Greenfield, “Brinkley pushes for alternate form of county government;” which reports that Maryland State Senator David R. Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market is taking a hard look at the form of government in Frederick County.

This is significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that members of elected delegations to Annapolis have been historically reluctant to embrace such changes as it has been perceived in the past that it diminishes their power.

One could argue that position; however, these days there are plenty of pressing statewide issues for which state elected officials to focus their time.

Senator Brinkley however is not known for short-sighted approaches to what is in the best interests of the citizens he serves. For Senator Brinkley it seldom is about himself and it is consistently all about what is in the best interests of Maryland, Frederick County – and Western Maryland.

I served on the Committee for Charter Government in its beginning exploratory stage, in Carroll County in the late 1980s and although that effort may have been, in hindsight, a bit premature, the time will come, and not in the too far distance future, that Charter Government will be what is best for Carroll County also.

I remember well the discussions in 1967 that led to Code Home Rule being put on the ballot in 1968. That effort was defeated and yes - Code Home Rule is not Charter Government, but amazingly, many of the issues that were brought forth in 1967 are still issues today. (Anyway, after a great deal of study, I have determined that Code Home Rule is not the answer. Charter Government is the answer...)

Certainly the time for Charter Government has come for Frederick County - and in Carroll County it would be wise to start taking a hard and intelligent look at Charter Government for future serious consideration..

On the bigger picture, this last election has seen folks get elected to the Maryland General Assembly that will, if you can believe it, take that august body much further to the left.

In the last several sessions there has been a serious erosion for “local courtesy” and the time may be just on the horizon when that august liberal body will be increasingly intolerant of the needs and wants of the counties in the state that need to take local lawmaking to Annapolis.

Numerous examples are available. One awkward moment came in the last session when the Maryland General Assembly played games with a bill brought forward by the Carroll County Delegation to Annapolis over designation of the five districts for which to elect five commissioners. The bill never passed.

Although this delighted Carroll County Democrats and various moderate Republicans - - and gave them wonderful sound bites for the election as to the degree of capability and effectiveness of the delegation; it is a slippery slope that may come back to haunt all of us.

It was very bad precedent for all commissioner forms of government counties throughout the state. It was particularly interesting to see folks who complained in the past of local citizens going to Annapolis to encourage the Maryland General Assembly to not pass certain legislation; do the very same thing with the “five district” legislation…

The Gazette has been consistent as to matter of Charter Government in Frederick County. See here to read the paper’s July 28th, 2004 editorial advocating for a change: “20040728 Time to change Frederick county government gazed.”

Another interesting read is Frederick and Washington County Delegate Richard B. Weldon Jr.’s Tentacle column from October 16, 2006: “The Case for Charter:”

“The debate about the form of governance employed by Frederick County has raged back and forth for decades. Voters have weighed in several times, always voting to retain the current form, the Board of County Commissioners.”

Read the rest here.

Meanwhile Frederick County has changed a great deal in the last 100 years. Just before World War I - in 1900, the county had a population of 51,920. Agriculture was king and Frederick County led the state in the production of wheat and corn. The county economy was good and local jobs plentiful with 353 manufacturing industries, but there was never-the-less, a clamor to attract more local jobs and industry.

In light of today’s computer technology, almost fifty years after a commissioner form of government was established in Frederick County, the first typewriter made it into the Commissioners’ office in 1898. In 1917, the first auto theft was recorded in the county.

Just before World War 1, one of the biggest citizen complaints was the road system. Alright, perhaps some things have not changed… The tax rate in 1903 was 87 cents; however the 1909 to 1911 Board of Commissioners raised the rate to $1.18.

Since World War 1, the form of government in Frederick County has changed several times.

From 1748 to 1851, the form of government was a Levy Court appointed by the governor every year. In 1851, it changed to five commissioners elected every two years. In 1934 the number of commissioners changed to three, only to be changed back to five in 1974, where it has remained to this day.

Considering the increase in population since 1974, not to mention, the increase in the complexity of the challenges facing local government these days, perhaps it is time to change the form of government again to join the other eight counties in Maryland who have Charter government.

Ms. Greenfield begins her Gazette article:

State Sen. David R. Brinkley wants the new Frederick Board of County Commissioners to consider changing the county’s form of government.

Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market, is interested in changing from the current commissioner form of government to a charter, which calls for local voters to create and approve a document that describes how the government will be run.

‘‘I’m encouraging them to get the ball rolling, so if there is a change that has to take place [the Frederick delegation] can be there to help them do it,” Brinkley said.

The idea that the county should change its form of government has been batted around for some time. The current boom in population has spurred it along further.

In the late 1950s and again in 1991, county residents voted down a charter. In 1991, 67 percent opposed a charter government.

‘‘There has always been discussion of changing our form of government,” Brinkley said. ‘‘...There are those that claim they don’t want to go through the delegation and they want a single person at the top running things.”

Read the rest of her article here.

And stay tuned for the rest of the “Charter Government” story as it continues to unfold, as I have it on good authority that this story is not going to go away anytime soon for either Frederick County or Carroll County.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster Maryland USA. E-mail him at: Westminster Eagle Opinion and Winchester Report has moved to

Thursday, June 15, 2006

20060615 KDDC Commissioners to put Code Home Rule on Ballot

Commissioners to put Code Home Rule on Ballot

This just in earlier from the Westminster Eagle and Eldersburg Eagle:

EAGLE ALERT: Code Home Rule initiative put into motion

Thursday, June 15, 2006 5:21 PM

By Jim Joyner

The Board of County Commissioners on Thursday took the first step toward placing Code Home Rule on the November ballot as a voter referendum.

By consensus, the commissioners announced their "intent" to place Code Home Rule before voters - essentially kicking off a process that requires at least two public hearings, then a formal vote by the Board before Aug. 21 in order to place it on the Nov. 7 election ballot.

Code Home Rule is a change of the county's form of government that would expand on the county's ability to enact certain types of legislation without approval by the General Assembly. The General Assembly would still hold the authority over issues including new taxes, but County government would obtain bonding authority, the ability to enact impact fees and could even change the number of commissioners and establish a district form of government - without General Assembly approval.

"We'd still be obligated to go to the general Assembly for certain things," noted Commissioner President Julia Gouge.

County Attorney Kim Millender said Code Home Rule includes many of the provisions of charter government, but without the need to establish a formal charter, which usually sets up an executive and legislative branch.

Commissioner Perry Jones noted that the board has received many phone calls and letters about making Code Home Rule a voter referendum, and said, "I was skeptical at first ... (but) I'm for this (placing it on the ballot)."

By law, the commissioners must record their "intent" to place Code Home Rule on the ballot, then must hold at least two public hearings, giving 30 days notice. After that, the board must vote to formally place Code Home Rule on the ballot - all this must be done prior to Aug. 21 in order to be done this year.

But the commissioners also said they hope to go farther, and have a series of informational meetings over the summer - either before, along with or after the public hearings. Millender said the University of Maryland Intergovernmental Service Department has expressed a willingness to help run information meetings to help residents grasp the differences in the government forms.

Millender said staff will work out a tentative schedule and return to the commissioners next week for review.

Gouge expressed some concern that the time frame may be too quick to make voters comfortable with the Code Home Rule proposal, and said the public hearing will, she hoped, let residents tell the board if it's too short a period to educate the public. "Is that really enough time? That's what we need to hear."

Commissioner Dean Minnich backed the effort, but said the hearings and informational meetings will be crucial. "Everybody will know what we're doing, when we're doing it, and why."

E-mail Jim Joyner at

Kevin Dayhoff: Westminster Maryland Online