At-large members on council could balance inequity

Howard County letters to the editor

August 16, 2011

I read the article ("Spotlight on school board diversity," July 28) where a citizen from Columbia noted that "the citizens of the county deserve to have a board that is representative … including geographically, socioeconomically, culturally and racially".

Certainly, that can be said for the make-up of the representation of the County Council here. Three members represent the larger portion of the three Columbia districts when the population of Columbia is only 1/3 of the entire population of Howard County. Yet they hold the majority vote of the five-member council.

Since there is a Charter Review Commission that will make recommendations to the council, this is the time to inform them that there needs to be more equitable representation for those who live outside of Columbia.

One suggestion is that the council be expanded to included two "at-large" members who will have a global view and an understanding of the entire county and would have to campaign "at large" and talk with citizens throughout the county. In that way, we citizens would not be competing with the issues in Columbia, which have dominated the time and action of both the council and the county executive in the last four years.

Just recently, the three representatives of Columbia districts voted against a tax break for the community pools in the older neighborhoods outside of Columbia. The 23 pools in Columbia pay approximately $107,000 in taxes. The six pools in the older neighborhoods pay $53,000. How "equitable" is that? The two council members who represent the western and eastern parts of Howard County recognized the real inequity in this issue and tried to equalize the discrepancy. Thank you, Greg Fox and Courtney Watson.

Now, the county executive wants to "study" the issue! And the three council members representing Columbia districts are again in lock step with him.

Again, the only way, that we non-Columbians can feel that we have some impact on the decisions in the future is to make sure that candidates who run "at large" represent the needs of the entire county and not just their own districts.

Angela Beltram

Ellicott City

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