Survey reports preference for charter government

September 13, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

WESTMINSTER -- A survey for the Carroll Committee for Charter Government shows that county voters favored charter government over the current commissioner system after they were informed of the charter's main provisions.

The telephone survey, conducted by Sykesville-based Public Opinion Research Inc., revealed that 47 percent favored charter government, 22 percent preferred maintaining commission government and 31 percent were undecided.

The survey has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.

Interviewers asked about 400 respondents whether they supported such provisions as the power of referendum, elections by district, authority of the County Council to enact local laws, the appointment of an administrator to oversee government, and other key aspects.

Initially, 36 percent of the respondents favored keeping the commission system, 28 percent preferred charter government and 36 percent were undecided. Opinions leaned in favor of charter government after respondents registered their preferences for some of the document's provisions.

"It shows that the document it self tends to convince voters that it's a mainstream document in the county's best interest," said Public Opinion Research President Donald H. Herche, whose company is independent of the committee promoting the proposed charter.

The charter will be placed on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Charter government would replace the three county commissioners and an executive assistant with a five-member County Council, to be elected by district, and an appointed administrator.

A charter is a constitution outlining the structure and procedures of county government. It confers authority to enact local laws from the state legislature to the County Council.

The charter committee launched its campaign Friday by releasing results of the survey, which was conducted last month. Chairman David Duree said the campaign organization's only slogan will be, "The Real Truth Is . . ." -- a phrase meant to counter blanket statements criticizing charter government, especially its costs.

"We want to take the mystery out of it and let people know what's in the document," Mr. Duree said. "The document is in tune with the people."

He emphasized that the movement toward charter government is a "citizens' effort."

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