Confusion Still Exists On Charter Vote

Republican Challengers Accused Of Plotting Against Concept Of Home Rule

March 01, 1992|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

Many of the eight Republicans challenging the appointed charter board have spoken out against home rule, causing some to ask why they arerunning in the first place.

The effort may have misled some voters into believing they will decide the fate of the charter in Tuesday's primary election.

"This election is not about whether charter is a good idea; it's not about whether it's a practical idea," said L. Gregory Pecoraro, amember of the bipartisan, commissioner-appointed board. "This is about who is going to write the charter."

The nine appointed members -- five Democrats and four Republicans -- are defending their seats against Republican challengers who successfully petitioned for slots on the ballot.

Accusations that some on the Republican slate plan to kill the charter if elected are countered with charges that the bipartisan group will write whatever is needed to have charter government approved.

"I know everyone running on the (Republican) slate, and almost to a person they are anti-charter," said Jon Buck, a Republican and co-chairman of the commissioner-appointed board.

"They confided in me that (the charter) shouldn't be put forward, so I question their wanting to sit on the board that is trying to write the best document possible.

"I think their motivation is to kill charter."

Appointed member Charles Fisher agreed, adding that members of theRepublican slate were antagonistic when organizers gathered signatures asking the commissioners to appoint a charter board.

"The best way to defeat charter would be to put in provisions that are not palatable to the general public," Fisher said.

While not denying that most of their group is at least skeptical of charter government, members of the all-Republican slate feel their questions are good for theprocess.

"If the charter board is full of charter advocates, you don't have a balanced perspective on writing the charter," said Joseph M. Getty, one of the challengers.

"That leaves open the possibility concessions will be made to create a charter that is more accessible to the public. In the long run, those concessions might not be inthe best interest of the county."

For example, the board must decide whether to propose an elected executive or appointed manager.

"If (the appointed board members) are thinking of writing a document that simply passes the ballot box, they are making a mistake," said Donald C. Frazier, one of the Republican challengers.

However, appointed board members said the document should be acceptable to the voters who must live under its guidelines.

"Who do these people thinkthey are fooling?" asked Pecoraro. "The people of Carroll County arevery smart and have shown in election after election that they are capable of making these kinds of decisions.

"These people want to treat the voters like children who don't know what's best for them."

Appointed board co-chairman Walter Bay, a Democrat, said individuals opposed to charter government should voice their concerns after thedocument is written.

"I think it is inappropriate to be opposed to charter and then ask to be able to write it," he said. "If people have made up their minds, then they should wait until the charter is written and make a case against it."

However, Frazier -- who said he feels the charter is unnecessary -- said he should not have to waituntil the document is completed to voice his concerns.

"If we geta bad charter, I'll be one of the first to speak out against it," hesaid. "But why shouldn't I be involved just because I support limited government?"

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