The forms of county government allowed in Maryland will be explored at a special forum Tuesday night that could spark change in the way Carroll County is governed.
The Carroll County Board of Commissioners is hosting a forum to educate citizens on three types of Maryland government June 11 at Carroll County Community College, Room K100, at 7 p.m., according to a news release. Maryland Association of Counties Legal and Policy Counsel Leslie Knapp Jr., Secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning Robert S. McCord, and Chief Solicitor of the Office of General Counsel Victor Tervala will present information on the forms of government and then answer questions.
“I want as many people as possible to show up. This is our future. They need to pay attention,” said Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4.
In separate interviews, Bouchat and Commissioner President Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, each said the goal of the forum is to educate.
“This forum [Tuesday] evening is to give the right answers to all the of the options that are available so our citizens are better educated,” Wantz said.
Bouchat said said the event is “for us and the people to be educated so that we can make a rational decision.”
The county has long been governed by commissioners and, as Wantz noted, previous attempts to change the form of government by ballot were not successful, though the Board of Commissioners grew from three to five in 2010.
When it comes to public opinion, Wantz said, personally, he has heard “very little” about a desire for change from the current form, but he encourages people to attend the forum and learn more.
As for Bouchat, he voiced his support of charter government last year during his campaign for county commissioner. At the Oct. 10 candidate forum, Bouchat said he believed until a charter government is in place, economic development will be hindered.
He said he was inspired by former state Sen. Robert Kittleman, who was Bouchat’s senator when he moved to Carroll in 2004. Bouchat said Monday that before Kittleman died, the senator advised him to seek a charter form of government for the county’s benefit.
“It’s his last request of me before he passed away,” Bouchat said. “I trust his judgment.”
Bouchat said he believes the charter option would allow Carroll to be free of “unjust influence” of the General Assembly, which has to authorize many of the commissioners’ actions.
“The General Assembly is dominated by Democrats and we’re a Republican county,” Bouchat noted.
If the commissioners wanted to pursue a charter, it would vote to create a “citizen charter writing commission” to pen a local constitution, according to Bouchat. The citizens group would have to “bring that product back to our board,” but the commissioners do not vote on it. The commissioners would submit the document to the Board of Elections and then the entire county would vote whether to adopt the charter, Bouchat said.