The Unintended Consequences of a Citizen’s Duty
My name is Rebecca Wentworth – – Becky to most who know me. I began an exercise in “Citizen Duty” late last year when a friend asked for help recruiting a candidate for Hancock County Commissioner in District 1. My first reaction was, “What does a County Commissioner do?” I rapidly learned this is a common question. Some potential candidates I spoke to thought the post was an honorary title with no real duties.
Obviously before I could recruit a candidate, I needed to educate myself. I attended the open biweekly meetings at 8 AM (Full disclosure: I occasionally dozed off during the boring parts), interviewed the Ellsworth American reporter who covers the meetings, and read the histories of what County Commissions had done in the past. The more I learned about this unsung but vital arm of local government, the more I became interested in the issues they deal with – – safety, accountability, and fairness – – and wanted to learn how other counties have handled these issues.
Safety covers the Sheriff’s department (including the management of the jail), the EMA (Emergency Management Agency), and the RCC/E 9-1-1 (Regional Communication Center). Safety also includes the procedures that are in place for inmates and custodians, control of who comes and goes to the Courthouse and the administrative procedures that provide for the health and safety of employees (gate-keeping).