Council Selection Process Flawed

Council Selection Process Flawed

This column appeared as a Letter to the Editor
in the Capital on 3/4/12

The County Council deadlock over appointing a replacement for Daryl Jones points to a fundamental flaw in Anne Arundel County’s charter.

Requiring members of one political party to pick who will fill the vacant seat held by the other party is asking for trouble.  Rather than selecting the strongest advocate for the political beliefs held by the person originally elected in that district, members of the opposite party will be strongly tempted to appoint someone more closely attuned with their own partisan belief system.

This appears to be what is happening as the County Council deadlocks over appointing a replacement for Democrat Daryl Jones.  Three Republicans have voted repeatedly to appoint former Senator Mike Wagner to the seat, who donated thousands of dollars to both John Leopold and Bob Ehrlich in the last election.

Both Howard and Baltimore Counties require members of the political party’s State Central Committee to select the replacement Council Member.  These individuals have been elected by the voters in their party to represent them, and are far more likely to choose a strong advocate who shares the district’s and the party’s beliefs and concerns.

In addition to changing who selects the replacement member, the need for the County Charter to specify how a tie is broken has become blindingly apparent.  At a bare minimum, Anne Arundel County should follow Montgomery County's lead in requiring members of the party's State Central Committee to select the replacement if the Council deadlocks. 


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