Gop Calls Plan For Council Elections A 'Political Ploy'

April 11, 1991|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

A proposal to change the way the County Council and the county executive are elected has enraged two Republican lawmakers, who denounced the idea as a scheme to ruin GOP strength.

"A blatant political ploy" is how Councilwoman Diane R. Evans, R-Arnold, described the proposal by council members David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville, and Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis. "It's their attempt to divide and conquer the Grand Old Party."

Lamb and Boschert are co-sponsoringa resolution, to be introducedat Monday's council meeting, asking a county charter review committee to study these major changes:

* Staggering the terms of council members so all seven officials are not elected in the same year.

*Adding an eighth council district and electing a County Council chairman at-large to represent the entire county.

* Electing the county executive in the same year as the presidential election.

* Limiting council members to three four-year terms.

The three-term limitation was the only suggestion that met with approval frommost councilmembers, including Evans.

Council members are split on adding additional districts and a chairman-at-large.

Staggering the terms ofcouncil members and the executive, who now are elected in the same year, met with strong opposition, even from Democrats. "Sometime you need to have a clean sweep," said Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn.

"I think it's utterly ridiculous," said Councilman Carl G. "Dutch" Holland, R-Pasadena. "You're going to be electing the council every two years. The council would be eternally in a flux."

Boschert argued that public involvement in county politics would increase if some elections were conducted in a presidential election year, whenvoter interest usually runs highest.

Lamb, who said she is not committed to any of the suggestions except adding the chairman at-large, is concerned that county government suffers when too many elected officials are replaced in a single election.

"This had nothing to do with politics. It had to do with stability," she said. Lamb said she was shocked and angered by Evans' statements. "It's upsetting for everything that's done to become a political issue. I don't think thatway."

Lamb "shouldn't be shocked at all," Evans said. "Stability is one thing, but the status quo is what this (resolution) is."

Republican strength would be weakened if candidates for council and county executive are not allowed to run in the same election, Evans and Holland say.

The resolution does not ask council members to approve the changes, only to ask the Charter Revision Commission to study them. A resolution to appoint the committee will be introduced Monday night.

The commission has one year to review the charter before reporting back to the council. Any proposed charter amendments must be approved by voters in the 1992 election. Council members would not beelected until 1994. Any changes in the election procedure would apply to those elected after 1994.

Forming the five-member review commission, appointed every 10 years to update the charter and redraw district boundaries, promises to be a battle in itself. The seven council members each want their own representative.

Council members willnominate their appointees in early May; the five commission membersthen will be chosen by secret ballot.

"It's going to be very divisive. It's going to take a lot to keep the political landscape together," said Evans. She and Holland want at least two Republicans on thecommission. Holland said tax revolt leader Robert Schaeffer will be his nominee.

The Democrats say one Republican member is enough.

Middlebrooks is more concerned that women and minorities be represented. "As adamant as (Evans) is about the GOP, that's how adamant I amabout making sure these other segments of society are represented. That's more important" than having Republicans or Democrats on the commission.

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