But it couuld get overshadowed by other referendum questions.
With the general election coming up, Frederick County citizens will have the opportunity to vote for president, US Senator, Congressional representative, and a number of referendum questions. One of them asks whether the county should adopt charter government.
For more than a year, a committee of local citizens has been listening to public input, hearing from other charter counties and writing a document which would change the form of government for Frederick County.
But with other referendum questions dealing with same-sex marriage, gambling, redistricting and the DREAM Act, the charter issue could get lost in the shuffle. Charter Board Vice Chairman Bob Kresslein says this issue actually hits home because it involves how citizens will live in Frederick County for years to come. "The other things are statewide, they're of national importance, etc., etc., but this is really a home-grown issue," he says. "And I think people should start at the bottom of the ballot and work their way up."
"Frankly, it gives the people of this county a better opportunity to decide this county's future, and what could be wrong with that," says Charter Board Chairman Ken Coffey.
Both men urge citizens to find out all they can about the charter before heading to the election booth, either during early voting, or on election day, November 6th.
If the Charter passes, it will set up a county council and an executive. Just like on the national level, the county council would have a legislative function, and the executive would have an executive function. Coffey says the charter has a lot of checks and balances which prevents one branch from having too much power.
There would be seven members of the county council, five elected from districts, and two chosen at-large. They could serve no more than three, consecutive, four-year terms.
The county executive would be elected at-large,and can serve no more than two, four-year consecutive terms.
The charter says the council will pass legislation. The county executive can sign it, or veto it. The veto can be overridden or sustained by the council.
Coffey says a charter form of government gives Frederick County home rule. Currently the Commissioners must go to the General Assembly to get enabling legislation to enact certain ordinances. He says this will reduce the number of times the county needs to go to Annapolis.
While some residents may feel that Frederick County is becoming too much like Montgomery County by adopting a charter, Coffey says the Charter-Writing Board looked to Harford and Howard Counties, which are charter counties, and, he says, are similar in many respects to Frederick County.
If the charter passes, the current County Commissioners will serve out their terms, and the charter form of government will begin in December, 2014.
Frederick County voters rejected a charter form of government in 1991.