Two mayors will discuss charter plan Officials to inform public of advantages of executive, council

Effort to boost proposal

Women voters group will present forum in Westminster

September 16, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll's fledgling charter government movement could get a boost tomorrow night. At meetings in Westminster and Mount Airy, proponents will discuss the advantages of a government led by a county executive and council.

Through the summer, fewer than 100 people signed petitions that would lead to the appointment of a charter committee, the first step in the process that would change the county's commissioner form of government.

The problem, charter proponents say, is that no one was explaining the proposal or asking anyone to sign the papers placed at all eight town halls in the county two months ago.

"If we had people to lead the drive, it would probably take two weeks at the most," said William Sraver, a charter government supporter who worked for a failed 1992 charter initiative. "The trouble is we haven't discovered a leader who can take charter and run with it."

Charter would end Carroll's commissioner government and make the county less dependent on its state legislative delegation.

The County Commissioners insist that a petition is needed to gauge local opinion and will not appoint a committee without signatures from 5 percent of registered voters. Once a committee has been appointed, writing the charter would be the next step in the process to place the initiative on the ballot.

Proponents have six months from the first signing in July to gather 3,550 signatures -- a "completely doable" task, said Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman.

"All we have to do is spark an interest, and it won't take long to get signatures," Herman said. "A lot of people will join forces and make this happen."

Hampstead Mayor Christopher M. Nevin, who is leading the charter effort with Herman, said the petition drive boils down to time and motivation.

"This is not like handing out campaign literature," Nevin said. "You have to give people a little explanation."

Mount Airy Rotary Club has invited the two mayors to talk about charter at its meeting at 6: 30 p.m. tomorrow at the American Legion Hall, 801 Prospect Road.

The League of Women Voters is sponsoring a charter forum, led by Victor Tervala of the Institute of Governmental Services at the University of Maryland, at 7: 30 p.m. tomorrow at Carroll Community College.

The league has long favored charter and will organize additional lectures, if interest warrants.

"Our position is to inform the public," said Naomi Benzil, league president.

Herman regrets the scheduling conflict, but "we are all heading in the same direction," he said. "Now is the time to get back to work on charter and really get down to business."

Two counties with commissioner governments, Cecil and Caroline, have placed charter referendums on the November ballot.

If Carroll's petition drive is successful, charter could appear on the 1998 ballot.

Pub Date: 9/16/96

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