Dems delay Cooper decision

Committee wants Md. party input on replacement options

Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010

A standing-room-only audience hoping to get an answer about the future of the Charles County commissioners' president seat left last week's local Democratic Central Committee meeting empty-handed.

Committee members informed those who showed up at the American Legion in La Plata on Thursday that they still were gathering information on what their options are as far as choosing a replacement for former commissioners' President F. Wayne Cooper (D) or leaving the office open through the coming election.

"We're getting advice from the Maryland state party," central committee Treasurer Debra Hobbs said. "We can't give you an answer yet. We've gotten bits and pieces. Whatever the action says for us to do, we will do."

Last month, the committee discussed the future of the president's seat in the context of a fast-approaching election and when or if the members would have to take action to fill the seat.

The members were hesitant to make a decision without understanding all of their options.

Cooper announced his resignation July 16.

Commissioners' Vice President Edith J. Patterson (D) has assumed the duties of commissioners' president, which include setting the agenda and signing public documents.

The committee members were quick to point out that while the county voters elected Patterson as the District 2 representative, the board of commissioners voted her in as the vice president.

At this point, the committee doesn't have a time frame for sending recommended replacements to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), but the latter would have 15 days to reply with a choice, said Gene Davies, long-serving committee member and a past chairman.

Whether the committee must appoint a replacement is still a question to be answered.

"We are still working on it, we're trying to get some guidance from the state," committee Chairwoman Virginia Benedict said on Monday. "The reason it's taken so long is we just want to make sure we do the right thing and do everything by the law."