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Letter: Vote against Harford questions A and B

2:36 PM EDT, October 16, 2012

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Editor:

There are many issues on the ballot for this November's elections, but at least two which apply to changes in the Charter of Harford County are, in my opinion, not in the best interest of the citizens of Harford County. These are Questions A and B.

Question A, if approved by the voters, would, among other things, require that, if a County Executive leaves office before completing his or her term, a person of the same political party be appointed to that position. At the present time we have but two viable parties in the County and we have many voters who belong to neither. In fact, I suspect there are many registered voters who would not be identified with either of the two major parties if there were a reasonable alternative; however, as it is currently structured, unless a voter belongs to one of these parties that voter is effectively disenfranchised by the primary voting system. Unfortunately, those voters help pay for a primary election in which they are not allowed to participate - some may say taxation without representation - But I Digress. Approval of this question would dismiss all those who are not members of either of the two parties. But let's consider - suppose a non-affiliated registered voter would somehow become elected as County Executive through unusual circumstances such as a citizen write-in or even as having been able to obtain a place on the general ballot through petition and then garnering the most votes in a general election. Then imagine that at some future time that person left office before the term was up. Since that person was not a member of a formal political party, how could that County Executive be replaced by a person of that party when there is no formal party? We would be left in a quandary.

Question B, if approved by the voters, would allow County Council members, after they leave office, to be immediately eligible to apply for County employment. As the Charter is presently structured, such officials need to wait a minimum of two years before being able to apply for County employment. I believe this waiting period should continue to be in effect. In my opinion, such a change, as proposed by the County Council, would result in self-promotion and is close to self-nepotism, if such a word exists. This proposed change almost smacks of a conflict of interest since, as an elected official, 1. they have certain insider knowledge 2. are well known by the departments which might hire them 3. retain a certain aura of a County Council person whether in office or not. These points could put them at a distinct advantage over an equally or better qualified person who had no such connections. If they would like to help the County when leaving office, I suggest they volunteer to help in any way they can but without being a paid employee.

Therefore, I would suggest that the citizens of Harford County vote NO on both Questions A and B regarding changes to the County Charter.

Joe Kochenderfer

Havre de Grace