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Community Voices (Bouchat): One year in as public servant, convinced Carroll needs a countywide elected official

December 5 concluded my first year as county commissioner and I wish to share my reflections and vision as a public servant with my constituents.

Having reluctantly run three times for a public position I was asked to run for, but had no career desire to do so, left me with anxiety going into civic duties. What is going to be the dynamic of the new board personalities, how ominous and difficult the budget process is going to be, what is the formal and informal chains of command, how will my constituents receive me after the press smeared my character, how will I understand and master the institution of county government? All these things weighed upon my mind.

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A year has passed and I feel a lot more comfortable knowing what a year has given me through curiosity, reading, questioning, analyzing and experiencing. But I still maintain a touch of anxiety to motivate my "A" game when doing something of importance for the county. In my defense, Elvis Presley said he never lost his anxiety before going on stage because he desired to always deliver his best performance. I am no Elvis, but his philosophy on delivering his greatness, should be noted by anyone seeking it, in any career.

We here in Carroll County live in one of the best jurisdictions of the state — low crime, great schools, good neighbors, preserved scenic beauty, the list goes on. Why is that? The citizens that live here are the reason. Good parents are more likely to have good students that grow up to be productive not committing crimes. This is the foundation of our success, not that we have a commissioner form of government. I would be arrogant and full of myself, if I said to the contrary.

We elect, predominately, good people to represent our political interest in local and state institutions. We also have extremely good professionals running our lean county government. Whether it is a department director or a bureau chief out in the field executing policy. They, too, are a reflection of you the citizenry.

As an elected local leader representing one-fifth of the county, I will share the one big glaring shortcoming of our local government: We have no countywide, publicly elected official running our government full-time.

There is no one blessed by a county elected-mandate to personify what citizens envision for the future direction of the county. Therefore, we have no one answering to us in totality running the half-billion dollar institution we call Carroll County government. This fact bothers me and it should you as well, regardless of political party affiliation.

The U. S. Constitution set forth the principle of “separation of power” where executive and legislative power is divided to balance institutions of public trust. Commissioner government, instituted under British colonial rule, violates this tenet and handicaps our rural county, both internally and externally in Annapolis political institutions (General Assembly and governor’s office).

Carroll County is great even with a 50-pound bag of commissioner on its back. I envision an even brighter future when this impediment is cast aside and someone we elect countywide speaks directly to us all and captures our collective concerns, hopes and desires for a prosperous Carroll County.

Who in public office represents our vision, countywide? No one is the sad answer.

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So, for the remaining three years of my single term as county commissioner, I will execute my conservative political science and fiscal philosophies in relation to my public duties and fight for your local independence from General Assembly control.

I will predict a successful referendum, of such, to be passed by the voters in November 2022, as I humbly exit this position you have so graciously given me.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I would like to close with a quote from Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

“May God bless us, everyone.”

County Commissioner Christopher Eric Bouchat represents District 4.

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