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June 14, 2012

Hot Topics in Proposed Charter

Joan Marie Aquilino

We are coming down to the wire. We don’t have a hard date yet, but the next couple of Charter Writing Board meetings will produce the final document to present to the voters of Frederick County.


I’m excited to be an active part of Frederick County’s new constitution. We’ve taken all that you’ve shared with us and put it a document that will literally put our government back in your hands. You will have the ability to make this government fit the needs of our county.


What an honor I’ve been offered to be part of the formation of this crucial piece of work that will enable us to have more say, bring government back to where it belongs, which, to me, is the closest possible to the people it serves.


This is a time where change certainly should not be feared. To the few who seem to be against charter for the pure fact that it’s different, I would request that you allow us to explain its contents, and to provide you with the opportunity to ask all the questions now.


Keep an open mind; and let us know what, if any, your fears may be. We will do our very best to explain how it will benefit you and the whole of Frederick, no matter your political view.


This is a document that will serve you well and you will control through your input, votes and referendums when needed. You ultimately have the control.


This charter pulls back some of the control the state has over Frederick and allows Frederick to control more of its own destiny. It also allows Frederick to have a more active role in the state government and how its actions affect us. How wonderful that will be for us all.






We the citizens of Frederick County, Maryland, a body corporate and politic, under the Constitution and general laws of the State of Maryland, in order to establish a more dynamic, efficient, and responsive form of county government, which shall be empowered by us to exercise greater local authority to govern and be manifest in its scope to all, do adopt, ordain, and establish as our instrument of government this Charter of Frederick County, Maryland.


One of the hot button items that have come to the forefront has been land use. The Charter Board did not make changes in this area; it will proceed as it always has. Here is an excerpt of that particular section.


“601. Adoption of Article 66B of the Annotated Code of Maryland:

(a) It is the policy of Frederick County that the provisions of the Land Use Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland that governed land use in the County prior to the Effective Date of this Charter shall continue to apply as if they have been codified in the Code of Public Local Laws of Frederick County on the Effective Date of the Charter...”


Another hot topic was how criminal behavior in office would be dealt with. Here is what we’ve come up with. In short, you do the crime you are out of office:


“407. Forfeiture of Office by the Executive

An Executive shall immediately forfeit office and the office shall be deemed vacant upon:  the Executive being convicted of or pleading guilty to a felony or a crime...”


….and the same procedure applies for council members.


Two items we’ve heard much about are consideration for staggered terms and non-partisan elections. Neither is something we have control over at this time; they are part of Maryland’s Constitution and would take a constitutional amendment to change.


There has been a lot of conversations about whether we should have council districts or at-large seats. At the moment we have proposed seven council members, five to be elected by districts and two elected at large. Once we finalize this discussion, I’ll relay that decision to readers of If you have an opinion, now would be the time to let the Charter Board know. Do not wait; speak now.


Compensation is the last hot button I’ll review today. This created a huge discussion, and it’s very important that we start the process in a cost neutral position relative to what is done today. It is not factual when people arbitrary state that “charter Home Rule government costs more.” It does not.


For the county executive, we’ve drafted this language:


 “406. Compensation of the County Executive

Subject to subsection (b) of this section, the Executive shall receive a Salary of $95,000.”


And for the Council this:


“207. Stipend for the performance of public duties under this Charter, each council member shall receive a stipend of $22,500 per annum.”


Every one has busy lives, but please do your best to find some time to read through the entire Draft Charter Document and allow us the privilege of knowing your thoughts.


Latest version of the Draft Charter document


Draft Frederick County Council Districts


Upcoming Meetings


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. . . . .'til next time . . .


As always, I’d love to hear from you; so, let me know what’s on your mind by emailing, or contacting me directly


“Just Joan” saying, be safe and “don’t believe everything you think.”


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