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Councilman: District 1 Battle 'Entrenched'

The council continued its deadlock with a split vote between two top candidates.

UPDATE (8:18 a.m. Tuesday)—The Anne Arundel County Council again failed to come to an agreement Monday night after the third session of voting for a new District 1 representative. 

The deadlock continued Monday night for three rounds before Councilman Chris Trumbauer (D-6th District) asked for a motion to adjourn.

"I'm somewhat disappointed that we find ourselves in the same situation. But we all equally share the blame. We're entrenched," Trumbauer said. "I think that there's no point to keep doing this, and I'd move to adjourn."

The council has been unable to agree on a suitable replacement for Daryl Jones, the former councilman for District 1, who reported to federal prison in January  Just before Jones' sentence began, the council 

 between the top two candidates—Mike Wagner, a Glen Burnie businessman and former state delegate and senator, and Peter Smith, a lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve, from Severn.

After the meeting, both Wagner and Smith spoke with Patch about the outcome, expressing disappointment that District 1's constituents have yet again been left without representation.

"I suppose everyone has their own beliefs for what's best for the council," Wagner said. "It's now become a matter of whether the experience or the youth matters more to them."

Smith said he wished he could have another chance to address three councilmen's apparent disagreement with him as the right candidate for District 1. Neither Wagner nor Smith have had a chance to speak to the council since their interview Feb. 16, which preceded more than 100 rounds of voting in the sessions since.

"One of the things I'm curious about is the hesitancy to not support me. For some reason I'm seen as this opposing force for whatever their long term objectives are, and it's frustrating," Smith said.

Smith also said the council's failure to come to a consensus didn't make the county look good.

"If you take everything into perspective that's happened over the last few weeks, it doesn’t shine a bright light on us, and that's unfortunate," he said.

On Monday night, the council continued its same divide, with Councilmen Jerry Walker (R-7th District), Trumbauer and Jamie Benoit (D-4th District) choosing Smith and Councilmen Derek Fink (R-3rd District), Dick Ladd (R-5th District) and John Grasso (R-2nd District) choosing Wagner.

The council will attempt to settle the matter for a fourth time at their next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. March 19.

Catherine thomas March 06, 2012 at 12:35 PM
They should be ashamed. Let the county vote for all new counsel members if they are so ineffective at compromise and decision making.
Monica A. Jones March 06, 2012 at 12:48 PM
My suggestion is pick someone who lives here or in the vicinity.
LaRue March 06, 2012 at 01:48 PM
The way the council is functioning reminds of P.G County Government.... Embarassing to say the least!
Jim Davis March 06, 2012 at 02:23 PM
If they keep screwing around Jones will be back and can reclaim his seat. If they are so poor, I'll lend them a nickel, heads it is Smith, tails Wagner.
Goldberg March 06, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I think that they should go back to the original candidates and publicly interview them for the position in a region that is convenient for the North County residents. They should at least consider the opinion of the constituents of the area. I feel there were at least two valuable candidates that were eliminated early.
Cindy Morgan March 06, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Actually, LaRue, it is the consequence of Councilman Jones' actions that remind me of PG County. Another elected official going to jail because of a crime. The County Council, by law, is trying to choose a candidate according to the laws established for this predicament. Unfortunately, the law doesn't state what happens in this particular situation. You must change the law to address it, but only AFTER the situation is resolved, so as not to write a law favoring one party or candidate over another. My only hope is they find a way to resolve the issue according to the law. I do not know the North County area, candidates or prospective candidates and have no opinion on the issue other than it would be nice to see a resolution.
Mr. P March 06, 2012 at 07:42 PM
If our County Councilmen cannot solve this problem, I'm not sure they are not capable of solving any other issues. Maybe, all of the existing inmature Councilmen should resign and the District 1 voters allow both Mike Wagner & Peter Smith to serve. Then my District would have TWO Councilmen, rather than NONE! We could also find our if the saying "Two heads are better than one!" is true. I favor Peter Smith myself, because I'd prefer some new blood with fresh ideas, rather than a seasoned politician, to represent District 1. State Delegate Pam Beidle was an excellent District 1 Council member. I always supported her campaign and I'm not even a member of her political party! There is such a thing as crossing over party lines and supporting the better candidate. I am fed up with incompetent politicians, whose only interest is to get reelected and to serve themselves. Bite the bullet and elect a District 1 Councilman.
Phillip March 06, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I'll give them the thirty days the law says then see about a class action lawsuit. Time to call, I think we all agree up here in district 1 that the counties business must move forward and we demand representation! Pick someone before we revolt on you.
D. Frank Smith (Editor) March 06, 2012 at 09:58 PM
The charter indicates the 30 days begin once the position is officially vacated, and Jones began serving his sentence on Jan. 23. So they're actually well overdue.
Phillip March 07, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Any lawyers ready? The people's business needs to move forward and we are, by law, required to have representation.
Marc Sanders March 07, 2012 at 11:35 AM
If the council can't reach a majority for a backfill candidate, then they should initiate the normal process for electing a candidate. Perhap the county should consider a designated contingency "tie-breaker" vote in the future, analogous to how the Vice President can break ties in the Senate. Then again, who would be best to cast that note - perhaps not the County Exec.
Bradford A. Thomas March 07, 2012 at 11:58 AM
I say get rid of the entire council and elect new people totally.
Amy Leahy March 08, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Does anyone know anything about Peter Smith and his political views?
Joshua Michael March 16, 2012 at 06:50 AM
Class actions arent free... besides the court system is extremely slow and this will be resolved before a judge could enact anything. Besides who would you sue? The county? The six council members? Its just odd when you look at the county charter.. It defines a quorum as 4 members but seem to have no method to break a tie there or in this case when there is a vacancy. As mentioned this is a serious flaw in the charter. Unfortunately, there aren't transcripts from when the charter was being made and revised(that I have found) that allow us to determine if anyone brought the potential for a tie up or if it was just not considered. And it cant be fixed until there is a 7th members because if you attempt to make changes that would give the power to decide a tie breaker to the Chairman or County Executive you might just have another vote that is deadlocked because Mr Ladd has voted for Wagner aka a vote to change it to allow him to choose would be a vote for Wagner. They should restart the process and attempt to find new members. Id also put some weight into the fact that the two democrats on the council voted for the Peter Smith. The Charter states new members must be from previous members political party. In the spirit of that Smith should be the new guy and in a perfect world the county council would yield to that this time until a new procedure is enacted. Here is link to charter via a link on county website : http://www.aacounty.org/CountyCode/index.cfm
Joshua Michael March 16, 2012 at 07:30 AM
I cant find anywhere in county charter or after a quick skim of state Constitution information on who would have original jurisdiction in this and who has the right to bring suit against the county council for failing to follow the charter. Besides what could the courts do? Force more votes? Place a new members(it would be a violation of charter for vacancy to be filled this way)? What to do.... Couldn't the state legislative branch get involved and appoint someone? They give counties their authority via their charter.

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