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Ordinance introduced to require municipal candidates to file campaign finance reports

Hagerstown City Council to vote on measure at Oct. 4 meeting

September 27, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

Candidates for elected office in the City of Hagerstown likely will have to file campaign finance reports, even though the state of Maryland does not require municipal reporting.

The Hagerstown City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday to introduce an ordinance that is a locally amended version of Maryland election law that makes it a requirement for all mayoral and council candidates to file reports with the city.

Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood was absent Tuesday.

The council will vote on approving the ordinance at its Oct. 4 meeting, according to city documents.

If approved, the ordinance would go into effect Nov. 3.

City Attorney William Nairn said previously that despite the state not requiring reporting for municipal elections, municipalities may choose to adopt a reporting policy.

In the past, when the city ran its own elections, candidates filed reports through the county.

Campaign finance reporting became a topic of discussion for the council this year after representatives of the Washington County Board of Elections informed the city that when the county takes over running the city elections in 2012, it will no longer collect campaign finance reports for the city.

The state does not want any reports from municipalities and it has long been that way, she said.

Council members have said in various work sessions this year that they wanted to see campaign finance reporting continue for city offices.

The council even discussed keeping the city board of supervisors of elections to collect the reports, but the charter amendment it passed in June removed all references to a city election board, effectively dissolving it.

At its June 14 work session, council members expressed a desire to use the state's guidelines for campaign finance reports.

Nairn said previously that he drafted for the city an amended version of the state's law that removed irrelevant references to lobbyists, contributions referring to state officials and payroll deductions. He also removed references to electronic filing, since the city will not have that capability, he said.

City Clerk Donna Spickler said previously that all reports filed to the city will go through her office. The city will use the state's forms, she said.

The clerk's office, together with other city staff, will review and maintain the reports, according to city documents.

In its 2009 election, the city asked voters though a nonbinding referendum question if they would prefer changing to the general election cycle.

Voters overwhelmingly favored the measure and the city amended its charter in June 2011 to move its municipal election dates to coincide with U.S. presidential elections.

Under the new schedule, the city primary will be April 3, 2012, and the general election on Nov. 6, 2012. 

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