The following was offered by Harford County Councilman Robert Wagner at the County Council meeting October 8, 2019:
There have been some issues I have pondered and waited to see change that have spanned our near one year together as a Council, and I would like to speak to them this evening.
Previous Councils have allowed the power of the Council and its purpose to slip away from their control, resulting in issues we, this Council, have to deal with and navigate. The Council and the County Executive all serve the same people. It should be our collective goal to work together, disagreeing or not, to produce results that are designed to serve the best interest of the large majority.
Having served on 4 previous councils, one serving as Council President, I have a different perspective. I envision changes that this Council needs to work on to make our four years productive and beneficial to our citizens. The County Council is not an extension of the Executive Branch but an equal partner that provides the “check and balance” for the Executive Branch and our County Government.
Conflict and confrontation is not my end goal, however our citizens do deserve to view their Council in action and participate, watching dialogue and decisions being made in their presence, more than they have over the past years.
Some rules implemented years ago had a squelching effect on public participation.
Section 216 of the County Charter speaks to non-interference with the Executive Branch. Section 302 references that the Council needs to be provided with any information concerning the Executive Branch which the Council may require for the exercise of its powers.
Both of these sections implore the working relationship by both Branches to cooperate and work together. I have heard from many local business people and citizens that recognize the blockades and policies that are counter productive to providing the best possible local government we can provide.
The Council should have full access to anyone in the County employ to obtain an answer or opinion. I believe this Council understands it is not our role to generate or delegate work without going through the proper channels to get work done for our constituents and County.
Council-people should not have to navigate through layers, involve more people and slow down the response time when trying to get answers and results.
These same Council members need to be allowed to vote without prejudice and retaliation from the Executive Branch. We were all elected to serve the same body of citizens.
On a most positive aspect, Harford County has a great and dedicated workforce that when allowed, is most responsive and committed to getting a task done right.
I would invite my Council colleagues to work with me as we strive to make some changes in the future to our rules to provide a more citizen-friendly environment.
I offer these comments in an effort to make constructive changes and do hope they are heard and understood with the good intention that I meant when formulating my thoughts.
Thank you for allowing me the time.