Councilmen Point Fingers in Quest To Fill Vacancy
Some Anne Arundel County councilmen lay the blame for a split vote on party politics.
Many Anne Arundel County councilmen claim a political game is being played over the vacant District 1 seat at the expense of the district's constituents.
Wagner's backers have primarily touted his experience and criticized Smith for his lack of political experience. Fink said Wagner's history as a public official was a plus moving into budget season.
"We are getting ready to face the budget, and he has been there before," Fink said. "He has dealt with the state budget before."
Grasso has said that he likes Smith, but not as the District 1 candidate.
"If I was picking someone to run the quarter-mile, or do pushups, I would choose Smith all day," Grasso said.
Wagner isn't the only one with budget experience. Smith has balanced sizable budgets in his work as a resource manager with the federal government, Trumbauer said.
"His attachment to the military will serve the area well as we deal with the challenges and opportunities associated with [Base Realignment and Closure]," Trumbauer said.
Walker made it clear that he believes there are political games at work behind his colleagues' support of Wagner.
"The north county machine wants a political insider for the joint purpose of advancing their personal agendas and supporting their candidate should the county executive seat become vacant," Walker said.
Walker's sentiment was echoed by Trumbauer, who said District 1 constituents should not "be used as leverage for other councilmen's political agendas." Benoit said Wagner's supporters "are being influenced by other Republican politicians who have their eye on the county executive's seat."
It's nearly two months since District 1 had a representative. Grasso said that although the council is divided, the fault lays at Jones' feet for getting them into this situation.
"The only ones that have something to squawk about are the people in District 1," Grasso said. "But in reality it's the people in District 1 that voted a criminal in. It's not our fault."
With Jones now out of office, Grasso said District 1 constituents now actually have better representation.
"Some might say the folks in District 1 ... are having taxation without representation. That's the biggest crock of crap. It's six people all working for them. They're getting six bangs for their buck. They're getting away with the devil in this deal," he said.
Fink said someone is needed to represent the district, but Ladd said he thinks they can make it through budget season without a seventh member.
"Is it desirable? No. I’m not sure that putting a seventh person in there will be any easier," Ladd said.
Walker said they may make it through this year's budget, but the lack of a seventh member would hinder any budget changes.
"We can make it through, but I have a feeling it will be difficult to get to four votes on many of the budget changes without a seventh person," Walker said.
The full transcript of Patch's interviews with the council members is available here.
CORRECTION: An earlier edition of this article incorrectly stated that Jones' seat has been vacant for three months. Patch regrets the error.
Severna Park Patch editor Leslie Hunt, Glen Burnie Patch editor Maya T. Prabhu, Odenton Patch editor Tim Lemke, Greater Annapolis Patch editor John Wilfong, Edgewater Patch editor Jonathan Moynihan, and Pasadena Patch editor Kaitlyn Carr contributed to this story.