If at large works for school board, why not council too?

Letter to the editor

October 20, 2011

The article noting some of the decisions of the Charter Review Commission stated that there was not a groundswell for "increasing the size of the County Council." After attending three public hearings and one public meeting, I can say there was not a groundswell for any proposal. How could there be when only about a dozen people spoke?

I recommended, and some disagreed, that the council should be expanded to add two additional member that would run "at large" while five would run in districts, as they do now. It is important that at least two members of the County Council would have to run and meet citizens from all parts of the county and learn the issues there. They would have a "global" view and would understand issues outside of a district.

In addition, if one council member in one district is not representative of a voter, that voter has the option and dealing with a council member who understands the county as a whole. Most importantly, the good of the county is more important than one district.

Just recently, there was a proposal to drastically change the seven-member school board now elected entirely at large, to "hybid" in which five members would be elected by district and two would be appointed by the county executive. The hearing room was full and the great majority spoke for retaining the current system.

How is it that a seven-member board whose focus is on the good of 50,000 students is acceptable but a five-member County Council that deals with the good of 286,000 citizens should not have a similar method of representation?

Most of the testimony from citizens was about their right to vote for "more than one" candidate for school board and against a restriction by the district method. These speakers spoke of exercising a "democratic" vote and against a "restriction" on their vote. Why doesn't the same hold true for those who vote for County Council?

Angela Beltram

Ellicott City

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