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Hagerstown City Council discusses nonpartisan elections

It decided it needed more information before moving forward on a resolution adding the question to the ballot

November 08, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

The question of whether to hold nonpartisan elections in Hagerstown is slated to appear on next year's general election ballot, but not before it receives more discussion.

The Hagerstown City Council decided in August that it wanted to put the proposed change to a nonpartisan election — an election in which candidates are not nominated based on political party — on the 2012 general election ballot as a nonbinding question for voters.

But on Tuesday the council decided it needed more information before moving forward on a resolution adding the question to the ballot.

City Attorney William Nairn presented a draft resolution detailing the ballot question which read:

"Should Article V Section 503 of the Charter of the City of Hagerstown be amended by the Hagerstown City Council to provide for a non-partisan primary in which the ten persons with the highest votes without regard to political party shall become candidates for City Council in the general election and the two persons with the highest number of votes without regard to political party shall become candidates for Mayor in the general election?"

Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood said she was concerned that it was unclear if there would still be any indication of a candidate's party affiliation on the ballot, even if the election would ultimately be decided without regard to political party.

She also questioned if the candidates would still need to file for election under their associated party.

"It may not be the appropriate conversation for this particular resolution, however, I think it is something, if we choose to bring this to the ballot, is relevant to discuss," she said.

Councilman Martin Brubaker suggested that Haywood's concerns could be addressed if and when the city implements a change to nonpartisan elections.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he was under the impression that a nonpartisan city election would be similar to the nonpartisan elections for school board.

Haywood said she felt more information on the process was necessary to help inform voters before they answer the question in 2012.

The council has until August 2012 to approve the resolution in time for the question to appear on ballot, Nairn said.

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