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Thursday, January 15, 2009

City of Frederick, MD Officials Express Support for Election Date Change

George Wenschhof Bio

During a Mayor and Board workshop meeting yesterday afternoon, Mayor Jeff Holtzinger and four of the five aldermen expressed support for moving the City of Frederick Election Date to coincide with the Presidential election. Only Alderman Paul Smith indicated he would not support the change. His reason, as we reported earlier, was he felt city issues would get lost in the national election.

Bill Ashton, a long-time city government watchdog, pointed out the candidates for the many Frederick County elected offices had never complained that the Governor's race and state issues had received all of the attention in their election. The Frederick County and Maryland state elections are combined and will be held next year.

This change of the city election date to coincide with the Presidential election year would more than double the current anemic 32% voter turnout and also most likely result in some cost savings to city taxpayers.

Public comments in support of the change included many of the Frederick Young Democrats who had earlier issued a press release stating their support for this change. Guy Djoken, President of the Frederick County Chapter of the NAACP also testified in favor of moving the date.

I mentioned Alderman Alan Imhoff and I had long been supporters of this change. I pointed out that when I ran for Alderman in 1997, the population of the city had doubled in the 25 years since I had graduated from Governor Thomas Johnson High School in 1971 - yet the voter turnout was only in 30% range. In the 2005 election, when the current Mayor and Board were elected, the turnout was only 31.75%.

One dissenting comment came from a member of the Green Party who felt city issues would be lost if the elections were combined.

If passed, the charter amendment would result in the city officials elected in November serving a three year term to 2012, at which time the city election would coincide with the presidential elections.


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