Four Charter Amendments On The Frederick County Ballot This Year

One deals with filling a County Executive vacancy.                                                                                     


Frederick, Md (KM) As early voting gets underway this week, Frederick County residents are considering four charter amendments. Two of them have to do with filling County Executive and County Council vacancies.

Currently, the central committee of the party of the departing County Executive will make a recommendation which will be submitted to the Council which will take a vote. If the central committee does not nominate someone within 30 days, the Council will make a selection from anyone whose a member of the former executive’s party. If the departing executive is not a member of a political party, the Chief Administrative Officer is sworn in as County Executive.

Under Question D, if it passes, the party central committee will submit three names and the Council will chose one. If the vacancy occurs  during the first year of the Executive’s term in office, then the voters will decide. All of the other times, it will be the Council’s decision.

County Executive Jan Gardner said this could cause some problems such as a lack of continuity. “The vacancy for the County Executive could be filled by multiple people in a short period of time,” she says. They would be the departing Executive, the Chief Administrative Officer, someone who was appointed, and by somebody who was elected during a special election.

Councilman Steve McKay says it’s important that the people make a decision. “There could be some continuity issues. But it’s that continuity issue compared to the fact the decision is brought back to the people for that full half term. That factor is far more important than any continuity issues,” he said.

Councilman Kai Hagen said the special election to fill the vacancy would take place during a presidential election year. “The timing is not just before the election. It’s in time to give them the full opportunity to campaign, to have a normal electoral campaign for it too,” he says.

Gardner, McKay and Hagen were guests last week on Mid-Maryland Live on WFMD.

Question C would allow the County Council to fill a vacancy on its own board by choosing from one of three people whose names were submitted by the former Councilmember’s party central committee. If the vacancy occurs within the fist year of the member’s term, a special  election will be held to fill the vacancy. It would also be held during a presidential election year.

Question A, if it passes, will require the County Executive to submit information requested by an individual Councilmember for introducing or evaluating legislation. Councilman McKay says this would codify something that is already taking place between the Council and the County Executive.

There’s also Question B which would set borrowing limits on the county. The amount it could pledge for debt would be reduced from 5% to 3% of assessable property, and from 15% tio 9% of assessable personal property.

Early voting begins on Monday, October 26th and continues until November 2nd. General election day is Tuesday, November 3rd.


By Kevin McManus