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December 27, 2010

Survey says: New Wash. Co. senator seeks opinions

Call it Legislating Version 2.0. 

Sen.-elect Christopher Shank has put together an Internet survey for his constituents, asking 10 questions ranging from national health care to the makeup of the local board of commissioners. After months of persuading voters that he had the right vision for Washington County, he now wants you to persuade him.

Shank, a delegate since 1999, ousted fellow Republican Sen. Donald F. Munson this fall. He'll be sworn in next month.

As House minority whip for the past four legislative sessions, Shank was never short on opinions. He challenged Munson in part because he thought the senator was "too liberal" for Washington County. So why the survey?

"Democracy works best when there is an active and engaged citizenry. It is also a two-way street. I need to know where my constituents stand on the important issues of the day," Shank, an adjunct political science professor at George Washington University, wrote in the survey intro.

Among the queries: Do you favor/oppose legalizing same-sex marriage in the State of Maryland? Should national health care reform be repealed? Should the gas tax be increased to pay for transportation projects?

This morning, Shank wrote on his Facebook page that more than 250 people have taken the survey so far. "I will use these survey results during the next legislative session to help formulate  my position on a number of issues," he said.

"The responses so far to the open-ended question have been particularly insightful in helping me keep my finger on the pulse of the electorate," Shank wrote.

Shank is publicizing the survey through his social media sites and email contacts. He also has an ad for it in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

The new senator has promised to keep individual responses private but will share overall results on Facebook in the coming days.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 11:24 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: 2011 legislative session
        

Comments

How does he know if the survey submissions are from his constituents? Can anyone complete the survey? If so, why would he rely on the responses to influence his decisions.

Let's remember that our democracy is founded on the principle that the tyranny of the majority will not infringe on the rights of the minority.

This survey may be a way to engage the electorate but the Senator should use this as a check list of his votes in the Spring

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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