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 Mayor Suggests Changing Town Government Elections to October Instead of April

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

(8/27/03) - If Mayor Jim Hoover has his way, April town elections soon will be a thing of the past.

Mr. Hoover wants Emmitsburg's Election Day switched to the first Monday in October. He'll ask the town's board of commissioners to approve the move at its meeting Monday night at 7:30 in the town office.

The impetus for the change is the town budget. The mayor said that newly elected commissioners join the budget process in the middle and must be educated about what's been covered and what's happened in the town in recent years. It's even worse if there's a mayoral change, he said, because it's the mayor's duty to present a budget report.

Mr. Hoover said he didn't want to hold elections in the summer, when voter turnout might be affected by vacations. The October date gives a newly elected official time to adjust to the office and participate in budget planning from the beginning.

Commissioners and the mayor serve three-year terms. As written now, the resolutions to change the town charter would give each sitting commissioner and the mayor five extra months in office.

However, while discussing ways to make the change, the mayor realized another option. All town positions in three consecutive elections could be for terms of roughly three years and five months, carrying each seat to an October election date. Thereafter, elections will be held each October for three-year terms.

He said he'll push to have the resolution amended to reflect that change.

"I think that would be the better option and the fairer option," he said. "I think that's the best way."

Another option would be to shorten each term by about seven months. However, that eventually would require two elections in one year, a situation Mr. Hoover wants to avoid.

If the board wants to pass the resolution as written, there apparently will be opposition to a change extending the terms of sitting officials.

Harold Craig, a member of the grassroots political organization Citizens Organized to Preserve Emmitsburg, is against the changes proposed in the current resolutions. He said the elected officials should not be able to extend their terms themselves.

"I consider it an outrage," he said. "They're grabbing for power for five months.

"If they want to do anything, they should cut themselves short."

When told that the mayor intended to have the resolutions amended so that voters would decide who serves the extended terms, Mr. Craig said, "That's not so bad."

The mayor said he's been pushing to move the election date for about four years, since his days as a commissioner. He said this is the first time the rest of the board seems willing to consider the change.

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