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Revisiting the County Charter

Jason Miller, Candidate for Council-At-large (R)

(4/1) As a Republican candidate for County Council At-large, I wanted to take a few moments and let you know about the importance of the Frederick County Charter in this year’s County election. In 2019 the County Charter can be changed. I’ve heard from many voters across the county as they expressed their disappointment with the partisan bickering caused by charter government.

Frederick’s Charter states that "A Charter Review Commission shall be appointed by the Council no later than six months following the installation of newly elected council members after the election of 2018. A Charter Review Commission may be appointed at such other times as the Council, in its discretion, may determine but at least once every 10 years beginning in 2018."

The Charter also outlines that "The Commission shall review the provisions of this Charter and make recommendations as to the necessity for deleting, adding, or amending its contents."

The next County Council is required to appoint an independent, level headed, and bipartisan commission that will enact forward thinking checks and balances that may last well into the next decade.

Each newly elected council member must avoid the temptation of seeking partisan driven amendments to the charter. An amendment that seems politically practical today, may not be politically practical tomorrow. All charter amendments must be pragmatic, effective, and taxpayer focused.

Checks and balances on the County Executive’s power is a matter of great concern to me. Under our current county charter, the County Council is empowered to "investigate the affairs of the County and the conduct and performance of any Agency"

This charter clause is paramount to the separation of powers within a functioning Frederick County government. Our County Executive has yet to truly allow for this oversight to occur. The current County Executive has deemed the County Council’s oversight as an Interference with the Office of County Executive’s office.

The Non-interference clause of our charter holds that "Neither the Council nor any of its members shall appoint, dismiss, or give directions to any individual employee of the Executive Branch of the Government, except as may be provided by State law or this Charter." This selective interpretation of legislative oversight needs to be addressed. A County Executive free from Legislative oversight is simply too powerful an office for our local government.

As your next Councilman, I pledge to dedicate myself to ensuring that this mandated charter review process is done properly the first time and with as much public input as possible. If that requires the County Council stays until the early hours of morning over the course of several public hearings, so be it.

This year our county can change its charter. To read more about my other charter concerns, stances on other issues, or our campaign’s principled and conservative platform go to www.milleratlarge.com. You can also email me directly by emailing me atjason@milleratlarge.com.