March 12, 2006

ISSUE: -- Harford County Council President Robert S. Wagner recently proposed changing the way council members are elected, moving from candidates who are elected by district to having voters pick them on a countywide, at-large basis. In 2000, Harford voted to switch from at-large to by district, a move that took effect two years later. The bill, which likely will have trouble passing, came as a surprise to many political observers, some of whom speculated that the proposal is related to the council's recent handling of the comprehensive rezoning process.

What's better for Harford County: council members elected by district or at-large?

Voters, correct your mistake

Back in 2000, Harford County voters should have voted to keep at-large elections. By adopting elections by district for County Council members, voters relinquished a great deal of their voting power, and the ability for all voters to hold all council members accountable for their performance and voting records.

Some County Council members have recently stated that "This is the process that the people voted for," as if district elections were adopted in a land slide vote. The truth is that the vote to adopt district elections barely won in 2000. If it were put to a vote again, I believe a change back to at-large elections would be very possible. Here's hoping that Harford County voters get a chance to correct their mistake.

Ed Doheny Bel Air

District elections can accomplish a lot

If the citizens of Harford County voted for in-district elections, why would the County Council president think he has the authority to rule out what the voters wanted?

In-district elections can accomplish a great deal. Representatives can poll their particular district to identify problems or issues that directly affect them but may not affect other parts of the county. It also enables a person concerned about our county's direction to finance a campaign, expending limited funds, and providing voters a greater selection come election time.

There are a number of qualified, educated people ready to lead our county, but [they] can not afford to campaign throughout Harford County. This is merely an attempt to limit participation in our election process to those financed by big business, builders, etc., and may not have the best interests of Harford County in mind.

Those candidates in favor of this adverse proposal against the voters of Harford County have never heard of Jeffersonian politics or are beginning to juxtaposition for their political advancement in the upcoming election. But going against the voters may position them out of politics entirely.

John W. Yeager Forest Hill

Zoning tied to urge to change elections

The comprehensive zoning review by the County Council was a complete failure. Prejudice by each of the council members was obvious, with Councilman Cassilly being the only one consistent in his opinion.

Now they want to change the process to allow another chance to get their way and eliminate the voice of the people. The whole study should be dropped, and starting next year, it should be undertaken with one district reviewed each year, as suggested by Councilman Guthrie.

Charles Smith Bel Air

District elections empower people

I work for Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, who has taught me that an elected official should serve the people, not just work for re-election and special interests that fill campaign war chests.

Harford voters got it right in 2000. District elections are the best way to empower the community and the individual voter.

Right now, the average district vote in Harford County counts as one of 18,000. If Harford were to revert to at-large balloting, that one vote would be counted against 107,000 others.

Protect your vote. Elect to the County Council someone who will work for you and your interests, someone who believes in service before self and that serving the people means having to answer to them.

Kevin Patrick Kane Abingdon

The writer is planning to run for County Council in District B.

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