The coalition has an eye towards other rural counties joining their ranks for purposes of strengthening their policy-related standing in the Halls of Annapolis.
Additionally, several counties are seeking to form a broader coalition, AWARE, or the Association of Western, Agricultural, Rural, Eastern Shore Counties. The purpose of the Association will be to represent the unique needs and perspectives of these Maryland counties.
“Rural Maryland often finds itself at a strategic disadvantage from policy decisions made by the Maryland General Assembly because the non-rural counties often speak as one, thus prevailing” stated Blaine Young, President of the Frederick County Commissioners. “Our intent is to help balance the decision-making process in Annapolis so rural Maryland’s interests are strengthened and equated to the interests of non-rural Maryland. And this can only be accomplished by working together in partnership through a strong alliance between Maryland’s rural counties. In fact, that is why we are here today to voice our collective concerns about PlanMaryland, the State’s proposed effort to further control local land use planning decisions.”
Echoing Commissioner Young’s comments was Commissioner Michael W. McKay, President of the Allegany County Commissioners. “All roads in Maryland lead to Annapolis. There, statutory and budgetary decisions are made that impact the daily lives of every Marylander. When the dust settles from every annual 90-day Legislative Session, can rural Maryland honestly proclaim that its collective interests have been fairly served? Our intent is to better answer this question beginning on April 9, 2012 when the 2012 Maryland General Assembly adjourns, Sine Die.”
“This coordinated effort by counties with similar interests will serve a vital role in Maryland” said Commissioner Doug Howard, President of the Carroll County Commissioners. “By coordinating resources, sharing best practices, hosting public forums, reaching out to citizens and maintaining effective relationships with our respective Legislative delegations we will raise AWAREness on key issues that impact rural counties. Speaking with such unity on major, statewide policy issues will produce measurable results.”
Commissioner Terry Baker, President of the Washington County Commissioners, hailed the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition as “not only an historic ‘First’ in Maryland, but an unprecedented opportunity for other rural counties to join-in, thus making the Coalition an even stronger voice for rural Maryland. Can one truly imagine the strength of such a strategic alliance?”
Lobbyists retained by these Maryland Rural Counties will be Bruce C. Bereano and William R. Miles.