Editorial: Participation in government makes the process work

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 02:53:17 PM. A common refrain is that government can be inaccessible, even at the local level, making it difficult for the average citizen who works during regular business hours to offer input on the goings-on of their communities.

A common refrain is that government can be inaccessible, even at the local level, making it difficult for the average citizen who works during regular business hours to offer input on the goings-on of their communities. Sometimes, we think that’s true. For example, it’s not particularly easy for residents with normal hours to attend a Board of County Commissioners meeting at 1:30 p.m. on a Thursday, a 9 a.m. county planning and zoning meeting on a Tuesday, or even a 5 p.m. school board meeting on a Wednesday.

Still, we see examples all the time of boards, councils and individual elected officials conducting night meetings to solicit feedback from community members, often on issues that should be hot topics, only to see sparse attendance.

Take Monday’s series of open forums to solicit community feedback in the search for the next superintendent of Carroll County Public Schools to follow a retiring Stephen Guthrie next year. Input collected at these meetings was to be presented to and used by the Board of Education to develop a brochure and advertisement to solicit to candidates for the open superintendent position.

CCPS superintendent search forum sees low turnout Emily Chappell

Few turned out Monday night to give feedback about what Carroll’s next school system superintendent should be like, the first step in a months-long process to find a replacement for exiting Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie.

Six forums were held throughout the county...

Few turned out Monday night to give feedback about what Carroll’s next school system superintendent should be like, the first step in a months-long process to find a replacement for exiting Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie.

Six forums were held throughout the county...

(Emily Chappell)

Forums were held at the school system’s Central Office in Westminster and at Manchester Valley and Liberty high schools in the northern and southern ends of the county. The first round of meetings at 4:30 p.m. for CCPS employees netted 15 participants. The second round, starting at 7 p.m., saw just 10 parents show up.

To put that in perspective, more than 3,000 people work for Carroll County Public Schools — it’s the largest employer in the county — meaning less than 0.5 percent of the workforce attended one of these forums. Ten parents, of more than 26,000 students who attend public schools in the county, is an even more minuscule percentage.

For all the negativity some members of the community have shown toward the current leadership, rightly or wrongly, you would think more would welcome the opportunity to provide feedback on the qualities they believe should be sought in the next superintendent of schools.

Perhaps there was a flood of comments sent to the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, which is assisting in the search and selection process, as requested by CCPS for people who could not attend the forums. The number of emailed responses was not immediately available Tuesday.

Still, the superintendent forums are just one example. Also on Monday, County Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, hosted a town hall-style meeting at the Manchester Volunteer Fire Company. Only about a half-dozen people attended. Hopefully, all still found it valuable.

We’re certainly not advocating that county officials and boards stop hosting these types of forums and events. All are good for government transparency and an open dialogue. We just wish more people who spend time complaining would take an active role and participate in local government.

And yes, we recognize that some, maybe even a majority of residents feel disenfranchised by local government when their concerns seemingly fall on deaf ears. Unfortunately, sometimes government needs to make decisions that aren’t always popular, but are deemed necessary. And yes, sometimes they get it wrong.

All the more reason to continue making your voice heard every opportunity given. “My voice doesn’t matter, they’ve already made up their minds,” is exactly the kind of apathetic attitude that leads to repeated bad decisions. The process doesn’t work when the people don’t participate.

The Brower family raises turkeys on their Taneytown Farm. CAPTION

The Brower family raises turkeys on their Taneytown Farm.

The Brower family raises turkeys on their Taneytown Farm.

The Brower family raises turkeys on their Taneytown Farm. CAPTION

The Brower family raises turkeys on their Taneytown Farm.

The Brower family raises turkeys on their Taneytown Farm.

Commissioner Stephen Wantz CAPTION

Commissioner Steve Wantz meets constituents in Manchester on Nov. 13.

Commissioner Steve Wantz meets constituents in Manchester on Nov. 13.

Veterans Day activities at Sykesville Middle School CAPTION

Students of Sykesville Middle School look on as Chuck Ritz reads the names of Carroll County service members killed in the line of duty and Trevor Kilgore rings the bell of Maryland's 9/11 Rolling Memorial. 

Students of Sykesville Middle School look on as Chuck Ritz reads the names of Carroll County service members killed in the line of duty and Trevor Kilgore rings the bell of Maryland's 9/11 Rolling Memorial. 

Sykesville Craft Beer Festival CAPTION

Festival-goers enjoyed brews, bands and the festival atmosphere in downtown Sykesville Saturday, Nov. r

Festival-goers enjoyed brews, bands and the festival atmosphere in downtown Sykesville Saturday, Nov. r

Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy Open House CAPTION

The C. Richard Weaver Flag Court outside of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy was dedicated Nov. 2, 2017 and the newly certified academy opened its doors for an open house.

The C. Richard Weaver Flag Court outside of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy was dedicated Nov. 2, 2017 and the newly certified academy opened its doors for an open house.

...Read more
Share this

    You might also like