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Carroll County Times Opinion

Eric Bouchat: Outgoing commissioner, now delegate-elect, is proud of term with in Carroll County government | COMMENTARY

As I approach the end of my term and prepare for a move to the Maryland House of Delegates, it is my desire to share my gratitude to many and offer forgiveness to others.

Politics is a messy business and many stay out of the profession for very good reasons. People you consider your friends will stab you in the back, others will spread lies and spin half-truths into fabrications that fit their agenda with the goal of stopping your advancement. I even had someone at the polls on primary Election Day verbally assault me with fool language and degrade me, since I was wearing a top hat in honor of my political science hero, Abraham Lincoln, all the while in front of children.

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What motivates some to be nefarious is not my business. However, my faith in Divine Providence motivates me to forgive each and everyone of them. For I know the impetus of such behavior is ignorance and selfishness. Their ignorance shall not be transferred upon my heart to spread unto others. Knowledge and generosity seem to cure an ailment carried by some. Therefore, I wish it upon them.

As I enter into a much larger and complex arena of political science than the antiquated British colonial government commissioner system, thoughts of constitutional government in Annapolis motivate me to pray for strength, wisdom and guidance.

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Now on to the good stuff.

It has been an absolute honor and learning experience to serve the last four years as county commissioner with my four colleagues and staff, regardless of the contentious debates and political ferment that come with making new policies. Whether it is Director Ted Zaleski (budget genius), Roads Manager Jim Cook or Landfill Manager Dwight Amoss who serve on the front line in our Department of Public Works insuring constituent services are delivered professionally and timely — I owe them and many more my sincerest appreciation for making me a good public servant. Even if I have not mentioned their names, they know who they are that touched my heart, mind and soul. I am humbled with ardent sincerity.

When I first entered office, I made it an objective to meet with every department manager, top to bottom, to thoroughly comprehend and master the duties of commissioner. To my surprise, I was told no other commissioner had ever asked for this and that it was not necessary, since the administrators had it all under control. To me, I was being told, it is none of your business how the county government is being run; you have nothing to do with running the government; your job is to read proclamations and attend chicken dinners (Yummy by the way).

I pushed back with the fact that I am an elected official in charge, not them, and they need accountability and oversight. I am glad I did, for it gained me a vast knowledge about our county government from the people on the front line. That is where you can develop good policies that directly impact not only employees, but your constituents.

I am grateful to every individual county employee who had the courage to talk with me, in spite of fears of reprisal from superiors trying to hide things from me. Courage pays off and we were able to update the county personnel manual for the first time since 1994 and bring wages in line with the free market. When I heard that DPW was offering CDL truck drivers, working men and women, around $14 an hour, I was vexed with insult on behalf of those providing front line services to the public. These are the employees who answer our calls to provide constituent services, be it plowing snow or removing a tree from across your road after a storm in the middle of the night. The commissioners may get the credit when satisfying your calls, but I must humbly admit, we are not driving the trucks or running the chain saws. They do the hard work, while we make requests and give directives.

My success in this office is an undeviating result of those individuals on the front line, with whom I was told not to talk to initially. I hope the incoming commissioners emulate the leadership template set by General Washington that I learned from being an avid reader of history.

Now as I move onto my new civic duties, I assure you of my continued commitment to conduct the same philosophies and disciplines in my capacity as Delegate representing both Carroll and Frederick counties.

May the spirit and legacy of our Founding Fathers always be in my heart, mind and soul.

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Thank you all for believing and investing in me “The Welder” from Woodbine.

Bouchat, a Woodbine Republican, is a Carroll County Commissioner and was elected to serve as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 5.


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