When you go to the polls Tuesday, among the many contests you will be voting in is the race for charter board.
At stake is the fate ofwho will be writing the charter, either the bi-partisan slate appointed by the county commissioners or the Republican challengers.
This is not -- repeat, not -- a vote for or against charter government. No matter who you vote for, a charter will be written.
Before voting, consider these points:
* The incumbents are a balanced mix of five Democrats and four Republicans.
* They have been working since last December with the goal of having a charter ready for citizens to consider in the November election.
* All said they support the concept of a clearly written charter.
* The appointees represent the first time members of both political parties are on the same side in an election.
* The GOP challengers, dissatisfied with the appointments, collected enough signatures to force Tuesday's election. Most of the eight (a ninth dropped out shortly after the petitionwas filed) say they believe voters should choose the board.
* Thechallengers, who complain about the lack of Hampstead-Manchester representation among the appointees, themselves fail to represent the roughly 45 percent of the voters who are Democrats. Also, two of the three commissioners who made the appointments live in those towns.
*The newcomers also say they want the issue on the November ballot, and not put up for a special referendum in 1993. But as mentioned earlier, the incumbent board has already made November its goal.
* None of the challengers has come out in support of charter; several are firmly against it, while others say they might support a very limitedform.
* Clearly, many challengers hope this election will delay or -- from their viewpoint, better yet -- scuttle it altogether.
Asif this hotly debated issue isn't complex enough, Tuesday's vote will be further complicated by the ballot itself.
While partisan candidates who run for office generally have their party affiliation listed on the ballot, such is not the case with the charter board.
Thestate constitution orders that the 17 names be mixed together alphabetically, with no indication of party affiliation or distinction between commissioner appointees and challengers.
So, who do you want writing a charter?
A politically balanced panel, appointed by our elected commissioners, with strong credibility, a good working knowledge of the issue, no overlapping or duplication and good geographic diversity?
If so, vote for Walter C. Bay, Jon Buck, Charles W. Cull,Charles O. Fisher Sr., Damian L. Halstad, C. William Knill, Barbara S. F. Pease, Louis Gregory Pecoraro and Neal W. Powell.
If you want a panel with many members who admit they are against charter government, are politically biased and want to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings, vote for the other slate.