Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

March 2005

Why is the mayor voting with the commissioners

As your mayor, I have come to believe that the time has arrived for me to enact my right under the town charter (Article II, section 5) to vote on items with the town commissioners.

I have stood by since elected to the office of the mayor and refrained from enacting my right to vote on town issues because I believed that the former board of commissioners were generally taking the right course of action on town matters.

However, for the past year, I believe that the board of commissioners, sometimes in part sometime as a whole, has drifted away from the desires of most of the residents of Emmitsburg.

I have sat by and watched as this board has invested an extraordinary amount of time attending to personal agenda items, while the time devoted to discussing town-wide issues receives the lesser amount of attention.

I have also, on several occasions, had to enact my veto power as mayor in order to nullify actions by the commissioners which I felt were questionable and/ or premature. One of my veto actions overturned a decision when two of our commissioners voted to involve the Frederick County Circuit Court over a decision made by the Emmitsburg Board of Appeals. Town commissioners made no attempt to discuss the decision with the board of appeals prior to voting on involving Frederick County Circuit Court. I ask you, should the Town be seeking legal action against one of its committees without at least discussing the issue first?

Therefore, I believe by exercising my voting rights, I can do a better job of actively channeling the board toward accomplishing matters that would be in the best interest of the town as a whole, while at the same time help direct the commissioners from engaging in to endless discussions of what many times appears to be personal issues.

When an issue of interest to a minor number of town residents takes up several hours of meeting time, it is time to reevaluate the board's priorities.

I further believe that the board has divided its self into two groups, and with an even number of voting members of the board, stalemated results by virtue of a tie-vote are seemingly growing more frequent.

By enacting my voting right under the charter, my vote adds a fifth voice to the decision-making process, and provides a tie-breaking vote.

This is not the first time a mayor has enacted his voting rights. Several years ago, I asked Mayor Carr to ask our town attorney if the mayor had the authority to vote to split tie votes. The Town attorney informed us; the mayor has the authority to vote on every agenda item. Under the previous board of commissioners, I agreed since the mayor has veto power, I would refrain from voting, which technical meant, I would abstain from every vote. Although I did not always agree with the commissioners decisions, I agreed with this because I felt that that board was acting in what they truly felt was in the best interest of the town. Now, I am concerned that that is no longer the case. I believe my ability to vote and make motions is the best way for me to help ensure that an appropriate amount of time is spent on issues of general interest in the best interest of our town.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the town office, or e-mail me at

Jim Hoover

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