At the July 14 Washington County commissioners meeting, it was announced that a special virtual meeting will be held July 23 to pass an ordinance authorizing a question to appear on the fall general election ballot to create an 11-member government study commission to study our form of county government and to determine if “structural changes” are needed. That meeting has now been moved back to July 29. The commissioners’ meeting notice clearly indicates that the desire is to go to a home rule charter form of government.
When asked why, commission Chairwoman Diana Irey Vaughan stated in televised comments following the meeting that recent issues related to county row offices and concerns expressed by President Judge John DiSalle about row office performance are behind the move. This does not qualify as a reason to change the form of government.
In 2020, the citizens of the county chose change when they elected the current government. The voters spoke loud and clear. It is not a choice of two commissioners to decide to change what the voters have decided, by any means or mechanism. The commissioners need to listen to the voters.
The Republican Party strongly opposes the home rule charter form of government for Washington County. This form of government has been available to counties for 50 years. Of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania, only seven have chosen this form of government – for good reason. Vesting power in one official is not how representative government runs. A county executive/council form of government is on display to the north of us and is certainly nothing we wish to emulate.
A change in form of government is a major, long and costly undertaking and deserves much more discussion and thought before even beginning such a process. At this time, there appears to be no desire for change other than by commissioners Irey Vaughan and Larry Maggi. There has certainly been no thought put into the ramifications of such a change nor has public input been sought.
Lacking any legitimate reason to change our form of government, lacking any alternatives that are better options than what we have, lacking any popular support and lacking any meaningful discussion by our citizens, we must strenuously oppose any effort to change our form of government.
We ask that the motion for a government study commission be tabled until such time as the whole proposition can be further explored and proper justification be presented.
– The Washington County Republican Party