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Village Board Seats Refilled Despite Disclosure Law

The Chevy Chase Village Board of Managers is back to being a full board of seven members.

The Chevy Chase Village Board of Managers is back to being a full board of seven, after two residents stepped up to run for the two seats left vacant after two former board members resigned in advance of a new state disclosure law taking effect.

Chevy Chase Village residents Robert Goodwin and Elissa Leonard will join current board members Patricia Baptise, Gary Crockett, Michael Denger, Richard Ruda and David Winstead to comprise the board for the next year. As only six candidates ran for six open spots (Michael Denger was not up for re-election), an election was not needed.

"We were really heartened to find out that there [are] sufficient residents who want to see our government continue," Charlotte Jones–Carroll, chair of the village's elections committee, said at the village's 99th annual meeting on April 15, when the candidates' names were announced.

(for the second time) an exemption from the state's new stricter disclosure law for elected officials. The law, which takes effect on April 26, requires members of municipal councils and boards—and their spouses—to disclose to the public all real property interests, stocks and bonds, regardless of the properties', stocks' or bonds' connection to the village, Patch reported.

Last October, former board members Peter Kilborn and Thomas Jackson resigned from the board in advance of the new law, Patch reported. For the next several months, the village board worried that not enough people would want to run for the board of managers, and that the board's quorum might need to reduce from five to three people, Patch reported.

Many smaller municipalities in the state received an exemption from the law from the state ethics commission. But Chevy Chase Village was not granted an exemption, even though the village board felt that it had demonstrated to the commission that the village met the requirements for an exemption.

The disclosures would be an invasion of privacy in such a small community (of about 1,400 residents), and would substantially reduce the pool of qualified candidates willing to run for public office, Denger said at the village's March board meeting.

The village already requires its board members to disclose any interests that they might have with potential village contractors or companies. Disclosing every real property interest, stock and bond that a board member has is "not necessary to protect the public interest," Denger added.

The Maryland Municipal League has pointed out that for a municipality with buildable properties, commercial interests and municipal utilities, additional disclosures might be useful, but the village has none of these, Denger said.

In comparison, Kensington—which has 250-plus commercial businesses—received an exemption from the new ethics law, Denger added.

Read more about the issue on previous Chevy Chase Patch posts:

  • New Disclosure Law Could Reduce Village Board to a Quorum of 3 (Chevy Chase Patch, March 19, 2013)
  • Report: Village Denied Ethics Exemption Request (Chevy Chase Patch, March 15, 2013)
  • Ethics Commission Gives Village New Hearing (Chevy Chase Patch, Jan. 30, 2013)
  •  (Chevy Chase Patch, Nov. 16, 2012)
  • Sen. Raskin to Challenge State Ethics Law (Chevy Chase Patch, Nov. 2, 2012)
  • 2 Board Members Resign in Chevy Chase Village (Chevy Chase Patch, Oct. 23, 2012)

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