The following testimony was presented by Tom Myers to the Harford County Council during its February 15 session. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
Thank you, President Boniface, [and] members of the Council. My name is Tom Myers. I am a resident of Fallston, Maryland, and in light of the statements I’m about to make, I should mention, in full disclosure, that I am a member in good standing of the Young Democrats of Harford County.
In the movie “Inherit the Wind,” when Spencer Tracey, playing an attorney for a man on trial for teaching evolution, warned of the dangers of fanaticism and ignorance and suggested that the real danger was not of the teaching of evolution, but of the dangers of having bigots crucify those who bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind, the judge replies, “I hope counsel does not mean to imply that this court is bigoted.”
Spencer Tracey replies, “Well, your Honor has the right to hope.”
If the Republican Party wants to say that they are for openness and transparency and that they want to ensure that the rights of all people are defended, then I will be the first to stand with them on that comment. However, if they continue to raise any objections to having Democrats on the county’s redistricting commission, then they certainly have the right to HOPE, as Spencer Tracey said, that they speak for all of their fellow citizens.
They do NOT have the right, however, to continue to publicly say so and keep a straight face.
Simply put, with all due respect to the Republican Party in Harford County, they have shown this past week that they are not a party committed to keeping their promises to the voters of Harford County. The Republican Party has shown that they are only out for themselves and to hell with the concerns of their neighbors of a differing political philosophy. To them, freedom of expression only applies to those who agree with them and can meet every standard in their strict criteria to fit into their ideological tent.
To hear the talk of the Republicans openly opposed to opening the redistricting commission to include Democrats, you would think that anyone registered as a Democrat is not active and does not care enough to come out and have their voice heard at the polls. In fact, the opposite is true.
Voters came out to return Mr. Guthrie and Ms. Lisanti to the District A and F seats on this Council, respectively. The Democrats of this county returned Mary-Dulany James to the House of Delegates District 34A seat and elected (albeit a Non-Partisan candidate) Cassandra Beverley to the District B seat on the Board of Education. And lest we not forget, the county at large voted to return Jesse Bane to the office of Sheriff.
I submit to the Council and any member of the public listening in Chambers or on the Harford Cable Network that the Republicans, while opposing the inclusion of any Democrats on the redistricting commission, have for the past two years been vocal about one-party control of the 111th Congress, even though they had adequate representation and still had an effect on legislation and have also, for as long as I can remember, complained about Democratic control of the State House. Why are they vocal about what goes on in Washington and Annapolis, but quite content with something similar going on in Bel Air?
And I have to take issue with a couple of statements made by Messrs. [Tim] Impallaria and [Tony] Passaro about how rules can’t be changed. I guess they forgot there’s a reason that we have twenty-seven amendments to the United States Constitution. It’s because our founding fathers and our subsequent elected leaders recognized that laws do in fact need to be changed from time to time. For instance, thanks to those amendments, we now have the right to freedom of speech, slavery has been ended, women and blacks have been given the right to vote, we can now directly elect our United States Senators and anyone over the age of eighteen years of age can vote, regardless of their gender or race now.
Republicans should stay true to their words during their campaign from this previous year and do what is right for the entire county and not for the select few or your ideological brethren. Representative democracy was essential to the founding of the United States of America, as many Republican candidates have stated throughout their campaigns last year. I submit the importance of representative democracy also holds true for Harford County.
I expect no less than the best from those elected to serve, not the interests of their party, but of ALL people.
Whatever Republicans think of Democrats, and vice versa, registrants of both parties do vote, both parties wish to have their voices heard and both deserve representation in the redistricting of Harford County.
At least, to paraphrase Spencer Tracey, we have the right to hope.
Young Democrats of Harford County