For a while now, some Rock Hall residents have insisted that Councilwoman Beth Andrews, elected in 2017, is no longer eligible to serve on the town council because she no longer lives in the town limits.
Andrews also serves as vice mayor.
In June of 2018, Andrews and her husband purchased a waterfront home beyond the town limits on Jamieson Road. Residents familiar with the couple’s in-town property on Hawthorne Road say they “rarely” or “never” see the couple there.
“It’s dark over there at night,” said a resident familiar with the property. “There’s never any lights on.”
“I own two homes…5923 Hawthorne Road is my legal residence,” Andrews said in a brief phone interview on Saturday.
When asked, Andrews did not deny that she returns to Jamieson Road every day but answered with a question, “how do you know I don’t go to the Hawthorne house first, or if I don’t make a stop there in the morning, you don’t know that.”
“If someone wants to make an issue they can take it up with the council,” she said. Andrews said the current council has yet to question her residency.
Thee Kent Pilot made several visits to the Hawthorne Road property during different times of the day. No lights were on during evening hours and no cars were observed in the driveway. The opposite was observed at Andrews’ Jamieson Road address.
Maryland tax records indicate that Andrews claims her Hawthorne Road property as her permanent legal residence, but the Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that residency is not necessarily determined by a tax record but more importantly where a person domiciles.
According to the court, “One’s domicile, generally, is that place where he intends it to be. The determination of his intent, however, is not dependent upon what he says at a particular time, since his intent may be more satisfactorily shown by what is done than by what is said.”
The Court stated, “Domicile has been defined as the place with which an individual has a settled connection for legal purposes and the place where a person has his true, fixed, permanent home, habitation and principal establishment, without any present intention of removing therefrom, and to which place he has, whenever he is absent, the intention of returning. The controlling factor in determining a person’s domicile is his intent.”
On Oct. 11 Andrews and her husband hosted a fundraiser gala at their Jamieson Road home. The invitation indicated the location was the “Home of Dave May and Beth Andrews.”
If You Can’t Vote, You Can’t Hold Office
Section 606 of the Rock Hall Town Charter requires that officeholders be eligible to vote in town elections.
“A voter must have resided continuously within the corporate limits of Rock Hall since the January 1st immediately preceding any town election held pursuant to Section 609 of the Charter of the Town of Rock Hall; and is registered in accordance with the provisions of this Charter shall be a qualified voter of the town”
“For special elections, the voter must have resided within the corporate limits of Rock Hall for the 90 days preceding the election.”
Rock Hall Mayor Dawn Jacobs did not respond to a request for comment by the time this story ran.