Who Should Choose a Replacement Executive or Councilman?
The County Council is scheduled to vote Monday on charter amendments that would oust an executive or councilman from office if he or she is convicted of a felony.
An overwhelming majority of voters in an online poll favor special elections to determine who fills council and county executive vacancies, rather than having the decision made by the County Council.
The Anne Arundel County Council is scheduled to vote Monday on charter amendments that would oust an executive or councilman from office if they are convicted of a felony, and change the way their successors are appointed.
The legislation comes while County Executive John R. Leopold and his attorneys prepare for trial, and weeks after former Councilman Daryl Jones was released from federal prison.
As the county's charter is currently written, the council has the authority to select a replacement for these seats. But an amendment proposed for Monday would open the selection authority to the State Central Committee if the council cannot decide on a successor within 30 days (read the full resolution on the County Council's website).
Any charter amendments must next go before the public for a vote in the form of a referendum in the November election.
A poll created by the Anne Arundel Committee on Political Education is asking the public how they want vacancies to be filled. The poll can be found on the organization's website.
The results so far have been in favor of a special election, said the organization's chairman Robert Yeatman. The chairman said he fears that Anne Arundel County residents are being left out of the conversation, which is what drove him to create the poll.
Of the more than 700 residents who have participated in the poll thus far, 85 percent said they want a special election to decide an executive vacancy, and 73 percent want a special election to decide on a council vacancy, according to results announced by Yeatman on Friday.
“County residents overwhelmingly disagree with having the County Council select a new county executive or County Council member,” said Yeatman. “It is a cornerstone of democracy that voters have the right to elect the people who represent them, and residents should be furious that the council feels they should make these decisions themselves.”
Former county executive candidate Joanna Conti blogged on Patch Friday about the poll, saying, "Democracy is worth the price."
In February, the council was left at a stalemate over the succession of former 1st District Councilman Daryl Jones' seat. More than 100 votes among the six remaining councilmen failed to find majority approval. Ultimately, Dick Ladd (R-5th District), of Broadneck, broke the tie vote in March by siding with Peter Smith, a Severn Democrat.
The charter amendments proposed for Monday would provide additional language to ensure stalemates like that don't happen again.
On the agenda for Monday's council meeting:
- Resolution 32-12: Amending the charter to revise provisions for removal of the County Executive for conviction or failure to perform duties.
- Resolution 33-12: Amending the charter to allow for the removal of a member of the County Council for conviction of certain crimes or failure to perform duties.
- Resolution 45-12: Amending the charter to allow the State Central Committee to break a tie for filling council vacancies.
How do you think these vacancies should be decided?