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Eagle Archive: History of government in Carroll County is one of change and debate

Throughout Carroll County's history, many issues have caused deep divisions among voters. Recently we recalled the stark differences of opinion between the German and English speakers in the October 1833 referendum over whether or not to form Carroll County.

As a matter of fact, it was after that election that Manchester fired the town cannon at Westminster to emphasize how they felt about the disagreement.

But divisions of opinion certainly aren't accentuated only in history. The decision last Nov. 6 by Frederick County voters, to go to a charter form of government, has kept local political junkies preoccupied ever since the election results were announced.

The ballot issue last fall was contentious in Frederick County. In Carroll County, even the preliminary discussions over such a change here have already had a polarizing affect.

There's no word yet as to whether or not any cannon fire will figure into the upcoming discussions, but I suppose we can't rule out the possibility of a few character assassinations.

According to numerous media accounts, including that of Ryan Marshall in the Frederick County Gazette on Nov. 7, "In December 2014, Frederick County's government will change radically with the swearing in of a county executive and County Council after voters Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the move to charter government after years of failed efforts…"

Marshall also reported that some 62.4 percent of registered voters supported the charter.

It took about five years the last time citizens in Carroll County got around to changing our county's form of government. On Dec. 8, 1999, State Del. Don Elliott brought the five-commissioner idea up at a joint meeting of the county's state delegation and the commissioners. On Nov. 2, 2004, voters of Carroll County approved the idea.

Ever since the county was formed in 1837, citizens have tinkered with the county's form of government. Of course, the government's approach is unusually "if it isn't broken, break it" ... so we can fix it all over again.

From 1837–1851 the governing body of Carroll County was called the "Levy Court." It consisted of nine individuals; one from each of the nine existing election districts in Carroll at the time and they were appointed by the governor of Maryland.

In 1968, the voters of Carroll County rejected both charter government and code home rule. In 1984, code home rule was defeated. In 1992 charter government was defeated at the ballot box.

In 1998 the voters rejected a referendum to increase the Board of Commissioners to five at-large members and also rejected a charter form of government.

That was then, but what will happen next?

When he is not gazing into a crystal ball wondering what will happen next; Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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