Ballot Questions and Orphans' Court

October 26, 1994

Charter Amendment A, which would allow appointment to county government positions on the basis of merit, has been proposed by Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker to streamline hiring guidelines.

The current system requires that appointments be made from a list of the top 10 applicants, which often involved a time-consuming search and screening. Sometimes, 10 applicants couldn't be found. If this charter amendment passes, companion legislation would allow appointments to be culled from a list of no fewer than three candidates.

One issue involved in this change gives us pause. The original requirement of 10 applicants was done to increase the chances of a minority candidate being considered. Officials insist there is no evidence that this practice worked; that the only real result was to complicate personnel procedures.

We see no reason to object to this amendment and support its approval by voters. Still, the effects of this change need to be monitored to ensure it does not adversely impact on minority hiring.

Howard voters are also being asked to consider Charter Amendment C, which would cancel County Council meetings each August unless otherwise called for by a special vote. Currently, the council must pass a resolution each July to cancel the August session, which it traditionally does. This technical change merely simplifies the process; voters should approve it.

(Voters on Election Day will also consider Charter Amendment B, which would allow zoning decisions to be brought to referendum in future elections. We opposed that amendment in an Oct. 13 editorial.)

ORPHANS' COURT: Of all the elected offices up for grabs, none may be as little understood as the race for Orphans' Court. A classic case of not being what its name implies, judges on the Orphans' Court rule on probate matters, resolve disputed estates and appoint guardians for juveniles who receive property in wills.

We recommend incumbents Rosemary Ford, a Democrat; JTC Charles Coles Jr., a Republican, and Democrat Francis Chase, who received the most votes of any non-incumbent in last month's primary election.

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