The MoCo Council Structure Should Not Be Changed

By Paul Bessel.

With due respect to the members of the MoCo Council, I believe they made a mistake when they voted to put on the ballot the issue of adding 2 District Council Members. We do not need more Council Members and the voters benefit greatly from the current structure. The item on the ballot by petition, to eliminate At Large Members and have 9 District Members, is even worse for our citizens.

The argument that we want to give voters choices is wrong. The vast majority of voters don’t care about the Council structure. They care what the Council does, not its structure.

The issue of Council structure has been studied in detail by 5 separate Charter Review Commissions and ALL recommended that there should continue to be 4 At Large and 5 District Members. That allows each county voter to vote for a majority of the Council Members and to turn to 5 different representatives when they wish.

Adding members to the Council will cost a lot of money: Council Member salaries, staff salaries, reconstruction of the Council building. What would be gained? Nothing. The 9 Council Members do all the work needed.

Eliminating At Large Members would be even worse. If a citizen lived in a district where her or his District Member didn’t care much about constituent service (it happens!) they would have no one to turn to, while now they have 4 others who represent them. Plus, having At Large Members helps to provide a possibly different view on all issues.

There is no need to tinker with the Council structure. There is no need to put any questions about this on the ballot. The current structure works well. Leave it alone.

Paul Bessel was Chair of the Charter Review Commission from 2015 thru 2018.