Engage Forum

Contribute to this open platform for sharing, civil debate, and problem solving for your community.

10 posts

What would you like to share? Social awareness is an important part of every healthy community.

16 posts

Do you have an event comming up? Share it with the Engage Forum to get the word out.

3 posts

What should be done to keep the air, water, and land clean?

1 post

Whether it's public, private, home, online, or continuing education, how do you value learning and keep it a priority?

8 posts

A thriving economy can be driven by the community. Share your ideas, opportunities, and announcements.

11 posts

Local, state, and national leadership all determine our futures. What issues are important to you?

5 posts

Farming is a long tradition in Western Maryland. How can the agricultural community grow their bottom line?

6 posts

How does Western Maryland integrate 21st Century technology and the opportunities that accompany it?

New Posts
  • To the Editor, Governor Hogan has selected six new members to the Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering. The 6th District that includes all of Garrett, Allegany, and Washington counties was found unconstitutional in November by a federal judicial panel. It was determined the current district was drawn to give an unfair advantage to Democratic candidates. A new district map was ordered before the 2020 general election.  Voters generally agree that gerrymandered districts throw elections by mixing in more densely populated areas to swing toward one party or the other. Both parties are guilty of redrawing maps to produce favorable outcomes all across the nation. The current 6th District weaves in parts of Frederick and Montgomery Counties which amount to roughly 50 percent of the voters for the entire district. The known Democratic dominance in the two counties naturally gives leaning toward that party's candidates.  The 6th district is a clear example of how clever manipulation of borders can change election outcomes. But if we’re talking about fairness, why do none of the newly selected six commission members reside in the three core Western Maryland Counties? The Commission is equally represented by two Republicans, two Democrats, and two Unaffiliated members but four of the members live in Montgomery County, one in Anne Arundel, and the other in Howard County. No representation is coming from the counties most impacted by redrawing the district.  Roughly 300 applications to serve the committee were considered. I personally know someone from Garrett County who was a highly qualified applicant to serve on the committee and I’m sure there were others within the district. Montgomery County has already been deciding the 6th District elections and now the same county will be dominating the decision of the new map. This entire districting issue centers around just representation for voters. The Hogan administration is missing the mark beginning with the selection process. True Western Marylanders should be directly represented on the committee to draw a map that accurately serves its voters and potential candidates. Hogan has an opportunity to create a model for establishing fair and equitable districting. Although he’s advocated for rural communities on other issues, ignoring Garrett, Allegany, and Washington County applicants for this voting district issue is not in good form. Mark Stutzman,  President, Engage Mountain Maryland
  • In a Baltimore Sun article dated July 2017, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he's against gas drilling off his state's coast which is in sharp contrast to news coming from the White House. Governors, state lawmakers, and attorneys general along the Atlantic coast say drilling threatens beach tourism that has flourished on the coast in the absence of oil production. Hogan is familiar with natural gas development following the Maryland General Assembly's passing of a ban on fracking in 2017 – with his full endorsement. The Trump administration is moving toward future oil and natural gas drilling off the Atlantic shore by approving five requests from companies to conduct deafening seismic tests that could potentially kill tens of thousands of dolphins, whales, and other marine animals. The permits granted will likely inflame governors in states along the Eastern Seaboard who strongly oppose the administration’s proposal to expand federal oil and gas leases to the Atlantic. Federal leases could lead to exploratory drilling for the first time in more than a half-century. "I'm not in favor of offshore drilling," Hogan told reporters last year. "There are many hurdles before it could come close to reality." One of those hurdles was just crossed which thumbs a nose to Maryland's newly re-elected Republican Governor. Hogan had not previously taken a public stance on offshore drilling, which had been shelved under former President Barack Obama. Hogan is notoriously cautious when weighing in on Trump administration policies which may have helped earn him a second term as a Republican governor for a Democrat-led state. SEE FULL ARTICLE
  • I would like to congratulate Commissioners Paul Edwards, Jim Hinebaugh and Larry Tichnell on being re-elected as our Garrett County Commissioners. I wish them well in their second, four-year term as individuals and more importantly as representatives of all Garrett Countians. We need them to do well on behalf of each of our citizens. Recently, I read an article from the Cumberland Times-News, dated August 17, 2006, and entitled “Garrett commissioner candidates differ on Oakland Route 219 bypass, other issues”. It highlighted the opinions of then candidates Ernie Gregg and Sid Nazelrod (there was no Democratic candidate for Commissioner District 1 in 2006). What most struck me is how the 2006 article could have been describing the issues facing our community today, 12 years later. The 2006 candidates talked about important issues including the difference in opinions on the Oakland Bypass, the high cost of housing, the need to attract living wage jobs to Garrett County, the lack of proactive attention on supporting small businesses, the struggle of farmers especially dairy farmers, and the need for a focus on local foods. These are among the most discussed issues in the 2018 platforms of the Republican candidates and the one Democratic candidate for County Commissioner. These are the very same issues that the three now re-elected Republican Commissioners said four years ago they would fight to combat and change. The citizens of Garrett County today say the 2006 issues are still important to them, yet for the past 25 years, we continue to elect only male, Republican candidates. We keep trying the same approaches with the same political philosophies and same ideas over and over, getting the same results. To the community that I love, I would like to propose the following. Let’s all come together -- regardless of political affiliation -- to support our elected officials in the work they need to do to listen to the will of the people on the Oakland Bypass; to create economic development strategies that attract living wage jobs to Garrett County and bolster our small businesses to prosper; to support farmers and develop new strategies so that family farms can thrive economically in ways that support our entire community; and to widen other avenues for the public, economic and environmental health of each citizen no matter who they are or where in our community they live. Citizen-engaged local government is simply more effective and more responsive! So, let’s get involved, including holding our elected officials accountable for what they promise, what they say and what they do. And then, when it comes to the 2022 elections, let’s also remember. If the changes we demand have not come to pass, let’s widen our perspective on who makes a good candidate…no matter their party, gender, last name, birth place, or address…and let’s elect candidates based solely on their vision and what they bring to the table to strengthen the community we ALL love. Can we do that?? Judy A. Carbone Swanton, MD

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