Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Monday, April 20, 2009

City of Frederick, MD Change of Election Date Update

George Wenschhof Bio

Change of Election Date Update - as readers of this site know, I supported the change of the election date from the current off-year election date to the presidential election year. I wrote about this in a column back in November of last year. The current voter turnout in the city general election averages around 30-32% and the presidential election year is over 70%. The local chapter NAACP President Guy Djoken, the Frederick Young Democrats, Democratic mayoral candidates Jason Judd and Jack Lynch had all expressed support for this change to the presidential election cycle.

While the city population has more than doubled in the last thirty years, the voter turnout remains a dismal percentage of the registered voters which further exacerbates a feeling many voters have that they are not represented in city hall.

I requested and received a workshop to discuss this change. On January 14, 2009, the city held the workshop and four of the five aldermen along with the Mayor approved of the change to coincide with the presidential election cycle. Only Republican alderman Paul Smith did not support the change. I reported on that meeting and you can read that here.

After months of my following up with Republican Mayor Jeff Holtzinger asking when he was going to move this forward to a regular Mayor and Board meeting for a vote, he informed me he was adding this topic for discussion on a evening workshop scheduled for the city budget review. The mayor also informed me he was planning to throw out a proposal for nonpartisan elections. This was one week before the scheduled workshop and I published a notice on my site you can read here.

Delaying a vote on a issue you do not want to pass and adding another controversial issue to the discussion is a very old political tactic to derail a change you do not wish to see happen. To further delay and stop this change, the mayor threw out that this proposed change should go to referendum. This is ironic as the current 30% of the voters in the general election could vote to keep the system the way it is, therefore maintaining the status quo with only 30% of the registered voters determining the Representatives of the City of Frederick. It appears the mayor has been successful in this regard.

The evening workshop last week on April 15 was poorly attended and only three of the five aldermen were in attendance. Democrats Marcia Hall and David Koontz were absent. It was a rainy evening and I was also unable to attend due to a nagging cold I have been battling.

Little discussion took place after Alderman Alan Imhoff ran through various options available in moving the election date (ie. state/county election cycle or stay the same). Republican alderman Paul Smith continued his opposition and Democratic Donna Kuzemchak expressed she believed she had changed her mind on this and wanted to leave it as is. Donna had been waffling from the beginning but had stated during the January 14 workshop that the "benefits outweigh the negatives". Imhoff discussed that to coincide with the presidential election cycle the primary would be held earlier (in late February or early March) than currently scheduled in early September. If scheduled separately, it would also cut back on possible savings in cost for the city and also be separate polling locations in the primary and the general elections.

I would also oppose separate polling locations for the primary and general as it would confuse the voter. However, as I explained to the mayor in a email previously, it would be simple to schedule the primary during.the summer months when the schools are closed. The question surrounds the use of the schools as a polling location. They are used in a presidential election and the concern is they would not be available to be used in September when the city currently has the primary scheduled. As to a reduced savings, that is still a positive for the city and if it cost the city a little more money to double the voter turnout, there should be little argument against it.

Many voters and candidates have expressed to me frustration the primary is so late and the general election occurs only seven weeks after the general election. Moving the primary to a date late in June so the schools could still be used for polling locations would eliminate the concern of two separate polling locations in the election. It would also allow for more campaigning to be done following the primary and before the voters chose their candidates in the general election.

Unfortunately, status quo and 30-32% of the registered voters determining who is the Mayor and Aldermen will be in the City of Frederick appears to be a election cycle that will continue under the current administration.

This is just one more reason for a change in city hall.


To receive "Daily Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

No comments: