Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Voters deserve a voice [Editorial]

Voters for the most part are left out of the process when an elected official leaves office before the end of his or her term, but short of legislative changes to the law, there are things that can be done to make the selection more inclusive.

Gov.-elect Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced that Sen. Joe Getty would become his chief legislative officer. That means Getty will be vacating his place in the state Senate, where just last month he was elected to his second term. Getty's replacement will be chosen by the Governor from candidates put forward by the Carroll County Republican Central Committee. Hogan likely will give heavy weight to whoever Getty recommends from that short list.


Larry Helminiak, vice chairman of the Central Committee, said the committee will hold a public meeting to introduce applicants. Committee members will then interview the applicants behind closed doors and then the meeting will be opened up for the public to comment before committee members vote in secret.

The public part of the process is more than the City of Westminster did when the council met this week to name a replacement for Dennis Frazier, who was elected to the Board of County Commissioners last month.


A better way to fill elected positions that come open before a term expires would be to hold a special election, but there are not many local governments in the state that go that route. Given the low turnout in municipal elections, it could even be argued that it isn't worth the cost. State level openings would probably draw more voters, but turnout there would likely also be low. Despite that, even low voter turnout is better than taking away the public's right to vote for its own representatives.

The Republican Central Committee has an opportunity to set a higher standard for choosing a possible replacement. Ultimately the Governor will make the final decision, but the more open and more inclusive the process, the stronger the candidates will be who the committee puts forward.

It would be beneficial to the public for the committee to add a forum where committee members, and perhaps even audience members, could question the candidates. And much like we just saw in the election, utilizing the Community Media Center to broadcast the forum would provide more people the opportunity to at least get a glimpse of the candidates.

The person chosen to fill Getty's position will represent Carroll in the state Senate for the next four years. Residents should have as a great a voice as possible in choosing a replacement.