Early Voting began on Thursday October 23, 2014. This midterm election is most important because you will have a chance to elect people who will represent you on local levels.
Above all and especially Questions H and J are disservice to Prince Georgians. Please vote against Question H and J. In addition, elect Board of Education members who can ask tough questions to Rushern Baker administration and not sycophants as a result of on going corruption and misconduct involving county leadership.
Questions H and J are couched in a group of Prince George’s County ballot questions that could be easily approved but are two pretty significant requests that must be soundly rejected: permission to extend term limits and to be able to reduce the number of newspapers of record, publications authorized to carry public and legal notices.
The Reform Sasscer Movement and other news outlets have long been opposed to term limits; we believe voters should decide when an elected official leaves office, and it’s a disservice when a strong leader must leave because of such rules.
However, Question J seeks merely to make term limits slightly longer, extending county executive and council terms from two to three — and smacks of a gradual attempt to remove term limits. Please reject Question J and spread the word.
The county should either keep or remove the limits, not add a few years based on what leaders think voters will let them get away with. For this reason, We oppose Question J.
Another less-talked-about referendum is Question H, a request that the county only be required to have at least one newspaper of record. Instead of the current rule of having at least three papers of record, the county would also use county-maintained electronic media for such items.
While this may seem minor, it’s actually a big deal. Legal information needs to be easily accessible by the community and, unfortunately, computers are not yet readily available to all residents. One only needs to look at the struggle libraries have encountered as job-seekers compete with students for free computer time.
In addition, the Prince George’s government is still working to regain residents’ trust, so it’s important to have independent carriers for legal and public notices rather than relying on the government.
The county’s disturbing request also would complicate access to information such as foreclosures, a major problem in Prince George’s County.
In the interest of full disclosure, we recognize that computer access is growing daily. However, until that time becomes a reality — and until the county government website becomes an easy and reliable place for legal information and notices — the government owes it to county residents to make the information as widely available as possible.
For these reasons, Prince George’s voters should vote against questions H and J.
However, the other ballot questions should get approved with no problem.
Questions A through E
The first five questions ask voters whether the county can borrow money and issue bonds for construction and repair of public safety, library, community college, county, and public works and transportation facilities. The price tag is high at $727.3 million, but the work must be done.
County officials want the flexibility to be able to issue bonds in serial form or term form (they differ based on maturation dates). Put in layman’s terms, officials want to be able to use the bond that would best fit their financing strategy. It makes sense.
Currently, if the county executive leaves office less than two years before the end of the term, the County Council is required to vote one of its own as a replacement or the council chair fills in as county executive until the next election. Question G would let the chief administrative officer serve as acting county executive until action is taken. The alternative would be to leave the post empty until the council makes a decision, which doesn’t make sense, so we support Question G.
Although disability and sexual orientation are protected categories under state law, the county charter doesn’t include them in the list of prohibited forms of discrimination for county employees. Question I simply adds them to the list, as it should.
Statewide ballot questions
Question 1 involves the Transportation Trust Fund, a pot of money Maryland collects that includes revenue from the gas tax and vehicle registration fees. The fund was created to pay for transportation projects, but over the years, lawmakers have distributed the money to other programs to balance the Maryland budget.
The question would require the fund be spent on road and transit projects. The money could be transferred into other accounts if the governor declares a fiscal emergency and the General Assembly approves legislation authorizing the transfer with a three-fifths majority. We think these are significantly high hurdles and transfers will be rare, which means the money will be used for the purpose intended.
Statewide Question 2 authorizes charter counties to hold special elections whenever a county executive cannot finish a term and there’s a vacancy in the office.
Currently, if a Prince George’s County executive has less than two years left in the term and leaves office, the position can be filled only by an appointment from the County Council.
Choosing “yes” for Question 2 will be a step forward, giving voters a greater say in their county governments in those rare instances when a county executive resigns or dies in office.
Please vote! Nobody’s vote is more important than yours unless you don’t show up. Then everybody’s vote is more important than yours.
Early Voting Centers
2014 GUBERNATORIAL GENERAL ELECTION
Early Voting Wait Times
Early Voting is October 23, 2014 through October 30, 2014
Daily 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
EV-01 Upper Marlboro Community Center
5400 Marlboro Race Track Road
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
EV-02 College Park Community Center
5051 Pierce Avenue
College Park, MD 20740
EV-03 Bowie Community Center
3209 Stonybrook Drive
Bowie, MD 20715
EV-04 Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center
8001 Sheriff Road
Landover, MD 20785
EV-05 Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex
7007 Bock Road
Fort Washington, MD 20744
EV-06 Laurel – Beltsville Senior Activity Center
7120 Contee Road
Laurel, MD 20707
EV-07 Baden Community Center
13601 Baden-Westwood Road
Brandywine, MD 20613
EV-08 Suitland Community Park School Center
5600 Regency Lane
Forestville, MD 20747
For more information, contact the Prince George’s County Board of Elections at (301)341-7300.