Could Frederick County, Maryland Change to Charter Government??

FREDERICK, MD - Frederick County voters will have some big decisions to make in just a few weeks, such as who should run their government.

Voters will decide whether the to change from the current commissioner form of government, with five members, to a charter form of government, with a county executive and a seven-member county council. The county council would be made up of two at-large members and five from different districts.

"The top benefit is local decisions by local people and a reduced dependence on the delegation to carry legislation to Annapolis. It's independence," said Del. Galen Clagett, (D) - Frederick County.

Clagett likes the idea of charter government because he says it would make elected officials more accountable to voters. He also says council members are more likely to understand the concerns of the specific communities they represent.

"One of the main concerns I've heard about home rule [charter government] is that it will cost more money. It will cause taxes to go up, and that's horse hockey. Frankly, it's important to understand that taxes are determined by service demand," Clagett said.

However, not everyone is on board with the idea. Delegate Michael Hough doesn't think it would be a good idea to have one person run the county at Winchester Hall. He thinks it's better to have a group of people in charge of the county so there'd be more checks and balances.

"With charter government, you eliminate that check and balance, and a lot of things will no longer go to your Frederick County delegates and senators, so it's just another way that they can pass more bad laws and more big government," said Hough, (R) - Frederick and Washington Counties.

Some proponents of charter government believe a county executive will be able to interact more with the governor, but Hough believes this isn't necessarily the case.

"This governor, Martin O'Malley, is a partisan, liberal Democrat," Hough said. "He does not want to work with Republicans. We can call this guy the king of Frederick County if we want. We can call the guy or gal the king or queen of Frederick County, the county executive, whatever you want, and it doesn't matter. It matters who you have as a governor."

State law granted home rule, or the charter form of government, to Maryland municipalities in 1954. Charter government was proposed on the ballot in Frederick County two decades ago, but it failed.

This will appear as 'Question A' on Frederick County's ballot and will read:

"Question A
Adoption of County Charter

Do you approve the adoption of the Charter of Frederick County proposed by the Frederick County Charter Board?

For Adoption of the Charter
Against Adoption of the Charter"

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