In a recent letter, Mr. Wiggins urged against “expanding eligibility for public office”. I assume he refers specifically to changes to eligibility for those running for County Council. This is Resolution No. 36-2020, which as an amendment to the Charter states, “...qualification for County Council Members be expanded to allow current employees of public agencies, boards, commissions or other public bodies which receive county funds, not under the direct supervision or substantially controlled by the County Executive or County Council, to be qualified as candidates for County Council.”
It seems logical to allow for this wider choice of citizens who could have leadership merits. Keep in mind the amendment continues to disallow those who hold any elected public office and prohibits those who are “...employed by a department or agency of the county government which is directly supervised or substantially controlled by the executive or council.” Therefore Mr. Wiggins’ example of concern of misdeeds by a member of the Public Works Department is moot.
Mr. Wiggins worries that with acceptance of this amendment; a future council member could unduly influence contracts or programs and would vote toward a personal ideology. What of the person who may have been in education for 30 years and now retired? This person is eligible to run, even though one could argue his/her background would influence actions taken. Or what of someone running who may be married to (or is a parent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, etc. of) a department head or any other holding an office which profits from county spending? Should we worry of biased cronyism here? In this close-knit county it is hard to get away from connections, and there have always been suspicions of motives when it comes to decisions made.
In my view, this amendment to Article 2, County Council, Section 205, is a modification which makes sense. It will give the voter a wider choice while maintaining the safeguards which will prevent the misdeeds about which Mr. Wiggins worries. I urge you to join me in support of this amendment.