Our first president, George Washington, warned against the formation of political parties (he called them factions) and never ran under a party label. In a strange way Carroll follows his advice.
All serious candidates for local office must be registered Republicans.There are of course factions in Carroll County, but they are not recognized on the ballot. As a result, all Democrats who would aspire to local office have had to change their registration to Republican, whether they are Sheriff Ken Tregoning, Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, former Commissioner Perry Jones or write-in candidate Jim Rowe among others.
You and I as voters have very little leverage in national elections, and only slightly more in state elections. Our vote counts for more in local elections and, since the move to commissioner elections by district, even more in the commissioner races.
However there are some issues to keep in mind when voting. On the national level, climate change should be on everyone's mind. Unfortunately, this board of commissioners made an appropriation of $30,000 in county funds to support a meeting of climate change deniers held in Baltimore County. A meeting held in another county should not be financed by Carroll County. A meeting held to push a national political agenda item should not be sponsored by county funds in any case. And climate change deniers are just plain wrong.
Recently the Defense Department released a paper citing climate change as an immediate threat to national defense. Consider a naval yard or shipyard where the bases of those giant cranes were under water. But the most immediate threats lie overseas. Climate change destroys crops and floods entire nations. Refugees push across national borders, causing instability and wars. What causes climate change? Carbon dioxide is a major component. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have risen from about 280 parts per million before the industrial revolution to 390 PPM currently, a 39 percent increase and the highest level in roughly 10,000 years. This traps heat which makes the polar ice caps melt. We depend upon polar ice caps and Greenland to reflect sunlight back into space. As they melt, the resulting water areas absorbs more heat from the sun, which in turn will cause faster melting and dilution of the oceans with fresh water. We need some carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But too much or too little means ecological disaster and mass extinctions.
Already permanent flooding of parts of Bangladesh have caused millions to flee to India. In response, India is building a militarized fence and considering mass deportations. If deportations are attempted war is a likely prospect. Climate change is not a specifically local issue. But local actions can have impact, such as the restrictions on solar panel farms on Carroll's farmland.
Spending money on climate change deniers was another bad impact. We have plenty of local issues that urgently need attention. The most important function of local government is education. We are losing many experienced teachers, and the majority of those who leave say they are leaving to get higher salaries elsewhere in the state. Already Carroll has dropped to third in education in Maryland as measured by standardized state tests.
Superior education is always been our crown jewel, along with our rural beauty. Our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren deserve the same high level of quality education as their ancestors got. As we prepare for the voting booth, each of us should know where our candidates stand on education funding. This is a local issue, but again with national impact. Currently four members of my extended family are being educated in Carroll County schools.
All of the choices on the ballot have impact on our present and future quality of life. Therefore we should all educate ourselves on both the records and the platforms of the various candidates. Here in Carroll County we don't have long waiting lines as we have seen in other states. So there is no excuse for not voting.
John Culleton writes from Eldersburg. His column appears every second Tuesday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.