Charter Home Rule Completed After Months of Healthy Debate
The board of twelve Founding Fathers (ten men and two brave women) propose a new constitution for Frederick County, Maryland.
At long last, the charge placed upon a twelve member board appointed by the Frederick County Commissioners is complete. The end result is a proposed constitution for Frederick County to adopt a charter home rule form of government.
The process began in March 2011, when the county commissioners, lead by their president Blaine R. Young, selected nine voting members and three alternates from a cast of 52 volunteers from all reaches of Frederick County.
The call for this cast of characters came just days after Young and the other four republicans were sworn into office- one that could be the last Board of Frederick County Commissioners (BOCC).
The election that swept these five into their seats of power in Winchester Hall was a very partisan and contentious campaign … to say the least. So when this group reached a decision on which twelve would sit on the Frederick County Charter Board, there were more than a few concerns.
A few of the commissioner candidates who didn”t make the grade with the voters in the November 2010 election quickly stepped up to challenge the choices that Young and his comrades had made for the charter board. A petition was raised with what appeared to be enough signatures to call for a special election that would overturn the panel chosen by the BOCC, in favor of candidates who would campaign for these seats.
In the end, a count of valid signatures caused the effort to come up with the short straw. An appeal was sent to court, only to have the original determination upheld in favor of Frederick County”s Director of Elections, Stuart Harvey.
In retrospect, these challenges were probably a very good thing, as it played a key role in solidifying the culture of the twelve charter board members. The contention that surrounded their appointments in the early months of their work, pushed the body to be more conscious of the value of transparency and their pledge to be non-partisan.
As the months wore on, and after nearly 30 initial community outreach meetings and interviews with other charter counties, many of the members of the opposition effort began to see that the appointed twelve were actually setting aside their personal interests in favor of what they believed to be best for the community at large.
In particular, one of the petition challengers, Ellis Burris of Burkittsville, attended nearly every board meeting and recently made a public statement that he was impressed with the effort of the group.
The final draft that was by the Frederick County Chart Board on Tuesday, July 10, 2012, was by no means a rubber stamped effort by a body of appointed puppets.
The board proved itself to be made up of individuals who often raised a few eyebrows from the viewing public.
Concern bubbled up from several charter advocates who wondered if the board could coalesce around some critical issues. As one of those “skunks in the room,” much of my purpose was to make sure that no stone was left unturned from the public”s point of view … As odd as it may seem, through all my years of experience with board work and strategic planning retreats, I”ve learned that a healthy and spirited debate often proves to be a major force to coalesce a body to make well grounded and properly vetted decisions.
This experience truly gave me, and the other eleven board members, a small taste of what the founding fathers of this country must have gone through 236 years ago.
The fanfare around a proposed new form of government for Frederick County may not have come about from a bloody revolution, but for many citizens who have experienced the growing challenges of Frederick County, they know that by balancing the power of our local elected officials with a county executive and county council, our county government will be better structured to make the difficult decisions ahead.
In future posts, I will provide a detailed breakdown of the key elements found within this document over the next 100 plus days before it appears on the ballot this November 6th.
Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He is an appointed member of the Frederick County Charter Board. He also writes forTheTentacle.com and Want2Dish.com.