Reporting Rochelle Ritchie
CARROLL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)—A commissioner in Carroll County is stirring up controversy after proposing an ordinance that would make English the county’s official language. Residents came together to voice their support and opposition for the ordinance.
Rochelle Ritchie spoke with the commissioner who says it’s a cost-saving measure.
The commissioner says by making English the official language it will save the county money, but some say it opens doors for discrimination.
It was standing room only Tuesday night as Carroll County commissioners gathered to hear concerns over ordinance 0227.
“I resent it when I have to push one or two for Spanish or English,” said Dee Ruby, Carroll County resident.
The debate is all over language.
“If they want a Spanish-speaking environment, go back to Latin America,” said Larry Ruby, Carroll County resident.
Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, who is the author of the ordinance, says he is trying to avoid the cost that comes with a bilingual government by introducing an ordinance that would make English the official language.
“I can tell you anecdotally from what I understand it’s thousands of dollars over the course of a year,” Shoemaker said.
If approved, the ordinance would mean all official county functions would be conducted in English only.
Matilda Vallejos, who is from Argentina, says the ordinance is an insult.
“I really was not able to find specifics other than to say ‘We want you to recognize that we are an English-only county and that diversity is not welcome,’” Vallejos said.
According to the 2010 Census, the population of Carroll County in 2011 steadied at just under 170,000 people with 3.5 percent Black, 2.8 percent Hispanic and 1.5 percent Asian.
With such a small number of non-whites in Carroll County, some say the ordinance is unnecessary or as it’s said in Spanish “no es necesario.”
Shoemaker defends his ordinance by saying 31 other states have introduced such an ordinance, including two counties in Maryland.
“If you’re going to speak to Carroll County government and vice versa, it should be done in English,” he said.
The ordinance did not come to a vote Tuesday night. It will be discussed again next year.
Frederick and Queen Anne’s counties have already passed similar laws.