everyone acknowledged, won’t please all
town residents. But sentiments expressed
at Monday’s public meeting about
proposed charter revisions seemed to
indicate that it’s close to what the
In a meeting at
the Thurmont Senior Center, the charter
review committee got input on its draft of
the town’s "constitution." A
handful of residents attended to pose
questions about the document’s intent
and suggest possible changes.
discussion centered on the election
process. Currently, a nomination meeting
is held the first Monday in October and
the election is held on the fourth Monday
of the month. The winners take office Nov.
1. Mayor Martin Burns said the system
greatly favors incumbents over people who
may not be well-known in the town. The
short campaign time, he said, prevents
some people from getting absentee ballots.
Sandra Hunter, one
of the charter review committee members,
said the first election after she moved
into the town passed by before she knew
it. "How was I supposed to know who
anyone was?" she asked.
committee member Bill Blakeslee said
candidates aren’t bound to wait until
they’re nominated to begin campaigning.
He said they can start putting up signs
and meeting people anytime they wish.
The possibility of
holding nominations in early September and
even holding the elections in late
September or early October was discussed.
There seemed to be a consensus that the
current time frame was too short because
the Catoctin ColorFest consumes the town
for a week between nominations and
Hooper said he favored a longer period
between election day and the date that
commissioners take office. Commissioner
Ron Terpko agreed, saying newly elected
officials need more transition time.
Supervision of department heads was
another hot topic. Mr. Burns said he
believed the mayor should have that power,
but Mr. Blakeslee countered that he had a
hard time envisioning a full-time employee
being supervised by a part-time mayor.
Shirley DePaolis and John Ford said they
thought the town needs a single point of
contact for department heads. Mr. Burns
said he’d even favor the hiring of a
town manager who responds to the board.
Mr. Terpko, however, said the newly named
position of chief administrative officer (CAO)
should serve like a town manager. The
department heads should report to the CAO,
which is now called the town clerk, and
the CAO reports to the board.
discussed at length was recalls, a subject
brought up by Mr. Burns, the target of a
recall petition drive. He said he thought
people serving on town-appointed boards
shouldn’t be allowed to participate in
efforts to recall an elected official.
the mayor said, "that’s like the
mutiny of the institution you’re
supposed to be helping and serving."
But Paul Nolan
countered that stopping a volunteer from
participating in such an action was
"fooling with their constitutional
Jake Spalding said
that appointed officials participating in
recall efforts differed little from the
town’s police officers filing a lawsuit
against the town, which they have done.
The mayor, however, said the police
officers possess rights as employees.
Mr. Terpko, also a
target of a recall petition effort,
complained that the charter exposed
elected officials to the possibility of
continuous recalls. If an incumbent wins a
recall election, he said, another recall
petition can be started right away.
Glenn Muth, a
committee member who intends to run for a
board of commissioners’ seat in October,
said the group will consider the
suggestions at its next meeting. He
didn’t know if there would be another
meeting before the committee presents its
draft charter to the commissioners.