Opinion on Question D from Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk

We have been asked to post the following letter from Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk on the Cool Spring Terrace website.


Dear Neighbors and Fellow Prince Georgians:

Election Day is just around the corner and early voting starts today. While many of us are absorbed by the presidential race, I am writing to draw your attention to an important issue at the bottom of the ballot: Question D.

I am opposed to Question D and I am writing to tell you why.

What Question D is About

Question D requests consent from voters to add two additional council seats to our county council. The two additional seats will be at-large seats. It will raise the total number of council seats to 11 ( 9 district + 2 at-large). The two at-large seats will have separate two-term limits. So, for example, a district council member who has served two terms would immediately be eligible to run for two additions terms as an at-large council member.

Some facts about Question D

It will cost the County over $1 million each year to fund the two additional seats.

Running countywide is expensive. Previous countywide races have cost between $300,000 to $400,000; over $1 million was spent for the last County Executive race. Developers and special interests will fund their candidates who will run on slates with Senators or the Executive, while grassroots candidates will find it very difficult to compete effectively. The at-large council member will be responsive to funders and not to the people. Let’s get public financing for council candidates in Prince George’s before we debate at-large seats.

We already know from the October 9th Campaign Finance Report that $30,000 was given by developers to Recharge At-Large, the Ballot Committee promoting Question D. There will be much more in developer contributions before Election Day. If Question D will be so good for the County, why are developers pushing it? Don’t be fooled by the “Democratic Sample Ballots” being mailed by them.

I believe it is Important to Respect the Voice of the People

Question D circumvents term limits. Term limits in Prince George’s were placed on the charter through a citizen-driven initiative. Some elected officials have repeatedly attempted to second-guess the intent of voters and overturn term limits. Their attempts have failed three times; Question D is the fourth attempt. One of the reasons I oppose Question D because I think it is important to respect the will of the people.

Just last year, the County Council, facilitated by a state law voted on by my colleagues, chose to increase the property tax rate. I voted against the state bill in the General Assembly that made it possible for the county council to circumvent TRIM and I opposed the tax rate increase publicly.

If adding at-large seats, changing term limits, or repealing TRIM will improve county governance, it is incumbent on elected officials to initiate that discussion at the community level and not support stealth measures to undermine what voters have placed in the Charter.

For all these reasons, I hope you will join me in Opposing Question D.

The Prince George’s Civic Federation is coordinating a citizen’s campaign against Question D. You can find more information at their website http://www.NoOnQuestionD.com

Best,

Joseline

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