Bill sought to extend candidate filing Action recommended because of election on proposed charter

March 05, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer James M. Coram contributed to this article.

The County Commissioners asked the local State House delegation yesterday to draft emergency legislation that would allow prospective candidates for offices created by a proposed charter to file after a state-imposed July 6 deadline.

The bill would extend the filing deadline for the September primary to Aug. 8. The commissioners acted on the advice of the state attorney general's office.

"This request for a departure from the normal deadline is for this election only because of special circumstances," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell.

A special election on a proposed county charter is set for June 9, less than a month from the state filing deadline of July 6 for fall primary election candidates.

The charter would not take effect until 30 days after the June election -- three days after the state deadline.

Should voters approve the charter, local government would change from three commissioners to an executive and five-member council. Prospective candidates for the newly created offices would have no time to file for the primary under the state deadline.

A provision in the proposed charter, delivered to the commissioners last month, set a filing deadline of Aug. 8 for candidates. The county Board of Elections has said it would have enough time to print ballots in that period.

However, Del. Joseph M. Getty said the county has no authority to override the state's schedule.

Getty and Carroll's Board of Elections sought an opinion from the state attorney general.

"The way the charter is written is legal," said Getty, a Manchester Republican and an attorney. "But what the charter board has written is in conflict with state election law. If you want it as clean as possible, have the legislature do a bill while it is in session."

In an opinion released yesterday, Assistant Attorney General Kathleen Hoke Dachille said the conflicting deadlines are not necessarily a problem, but cautioned "that the matter is hardly free from doubt."

"I recommend the matter be presented to the Carroll County delegation," she wrote.

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said the legislation would be advisable to remove doubt about validity of a later deadline.

Legislators have until Monday to submit a bill, Getty said. If passed, the bill would not affect the commissioner elections that would take place in the fall should charter fail. Four candidates have filed for the three seats.

New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr., who as a member of the charter board helped write the document, said the board followed recommendations from the Institute for Governmental Service in drafting the charter. The eight-member board paid particular attention to institute suggestions when writing the provisions for a transition, he said.

The substance of the charter reflects the needs of the county, Gullo said.

"The charter as it now stands is a document on which people will have the opportunity to vote," he said. "Voters should not be distracted by the minute details. Filing deadlines come and go, but the form of government we choose will be with us for years."

Pub Date: 3/05/98

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