UNIONTOWN — The county charter board closed one chapter last night and opens another tonight.
And the task that begins in earnest this evening will put the board -- and Carroll -- into state history.
The nine board members, appointed last fall and charged with writing a charter for Carroll residents to vote on, will gather tonight with eight people who want to challenge for their seats for a 7:30 forum at North Carroll High in Hampstead.
On Tuesday, the 17 will viefor seats on the board, the first time in Maryland history an appointed charter board has been challenged in an election, said board co-chairman Jon Buck.
Last night at Francis Scott Key High, the board conducted the last of four preliminary public hearings, which gave residents a chance to voice their thoughts on what a charter should contain. More hearings are planned after the draft charter is written.
With 14 people in attendance, the president of the Carroll County Farm Bureau relayed to the board that group's vision of what a chartershould be.
Gary Brauning, a Finksburg dairy farmer, reported the results from a meeting of the bureau's legislative committee on the topic of charter government.
The bureau, which has more than 1,200 members in Carroll, favors an elected county executive over an appointed county manager, Brauning said. The post should have a two-year term, with a four-term limit.
"We wanted a person who was going to run our county to be answerable to the people," he said.
Seven or nine county council members should be picked from districts, and also have two-year terms with an eight-year limit, Brauning said. A five-year residency requirement for those running for office should be enacted, too.
"Some of our board members wanted to see 20 years, but we compromised down," he said.
It's not like the bureau is embracing the concept of a charter with open arms.
"No one on the committee was in favor of a charter, but if we have to have one, these are some things we'd like to see," he said.
Council members and the executive should be paid "as little as possible," Brauning said.
Also last night, Uniontown Road resident Robert A. Scott told the board heprefers an appointed county manager over a county executive, as longas the manager wasn't subject to the whim of the county council.
"You'd have to safeguard the autonomy of the manager," Scott said. "If he's serving at the pleasure of the council, he wouldn't be as strong."
The board members and eight challengers will be on the ballotin Tuesday's primary. The top nine vote-getters will be on the boardand resume work on the charter.