Frederick County Commissioners Await Outcome of Petition to Establish Charter Writing Board

According to a story in The Frederick-News Post,   residents of Frederick County will know in about a week if their voter initiated petition for a special election to select a board to write the county charter is successful.  A nine member board, appointed by the County Commissioners, have already begun working on a draft charter document which will be sent to the voters in a referendum to determine if they want to adopt it.  A group of voters in the county were not happy with the decision to appoint the charter writing board, so they organized an petition drive to request a special election so that members of the charter writing board could be elected by the voters.

When the Board of Elections estimated the special election would cost the taxpayers approximately $250,000, Commission President Blaine Young stated his opposition to the referendum.

“I support the democratic process of petitioning government, but at this cost, this petition drive and special election is an outrageous raid on Frederick County taxpayers’ pocketbooks. This elected Board of County Commissioners ran on a platform in the last election that we would support the creation and establishment of a Charter Board to write a proposed constitution to alter our form of government. Every municipality in Frederick County is run by a Charter government, and we believe that it is time to change from a commissioner form of government to a Charter government with local autonomy and authority. A Charter government in Frederick County would also be set up with a check and balance system with an executive and a legislative body. “We conducted a very public and open process in seeking applicants and selecting the current Charter Board members. We are letting it be known again that although we appointed the Board, they are now fully autonomous and do not report to nor act at the direction of the county commissioners.

Petition organizers claim they have obtained 2864 signatures from voters, surpassing the required 2,000 that would initiate a special election.  These signatures are currently being verified by the Board of Elections. The Board has up to 20 days to validate, but Elections Director, Stuart Harvey, has indicated that he would like to expedite the process.  A special election must occur no later than 90 days after the petition is turned in.

Despite his opposition, Commission President Young stated:

The county is prepared to hold such an election, he said.

“We’ll do whatever’s necessary,” Young said. “It’s their right to do so under the state constitution.”

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