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City council approves nonpartisan elections in Hagerstown

November 20, 2012

Following a discussion on the matter a week ago, the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a resolution amending the city’s charter to remove political parties from future municipal elections.

The resolution also allows for appointments to city council or mayor to be done regardless of political party.

The 4-0 vote comes a couple weeks after the Nov. 6 election where city voters spoke “loud and clear,” according to comments made by Councilman Lewis C. Metzner last week.

Approximately 70 percent of residents voted “yes” on the city’s Question A, which asked if residents would prefer nonpartisan city elections, meaning party affiliations would no longer be attached to candidates for mayor or city council.

Councilman Martin Brubaker was absent Tuesday.

The city council discussed a draft resolution for the amendment at its Nov. 13 meeting, raising concerns about how appointments would be handled if an incoming elected official were to leave office for any reason.

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By a 3-1 straw poll in that meeting, council members asked a city attorney to amend the draft resolution to allow the elected body to appoint anybody to fill a vacancy, regardless of political party.

Brubaker cast the lone vote against it, saying he just wanted to be consistent with the manner in which the most recent partisan election cycle was handled.

Under previous city code, an appointment to the mayor’s office or city council would have to coincide with the political party of the departing official.

— C.J. Lovelace

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