Columbia's Town Center is delaying its elections


Columbia's Town Center is delaying its village elections by a week in hopes that by that time two new developments will be annexed into the village, allowing those residents to participate in the elections.

The elections have been bumped from April 22 to April 29, allowing more time for a number of details to fall into place, including the approval of state legislation that would consolidate those parcels into Columbia.

The Town Center board unanimously agreed Tuesday night to delay the elections for the village board and the Columbia Council. The village bylaws allow the date to be changed, as long as the elections are held in April, said Patricia B. Laidig, Town Center village manager.

The remaining nine Columbia villages are scheduled to hold their elections April 22.

"We wanted to make every accommodation possible, if there's any chance at all that all the events will fit together and allow us to have an election on the 29th with the two annexed properties," said Lee Richardson, the village board chairman.

Currently, two new developments -- the Lakeside at Town Center condominiums and the Evergreens, a senior rental complex -- are not annexed into the village. The roughly 200 residents there pay an annual charge to the Columbia Association, but they are not allowed to participate in elections.

Del. Elizabeth Bobo has submitted emergency state legislation that would allow residents in those areas to vote in next month's elections, as well as run for office. The legislation has been approved by the House but not by the Senate.

Because it is emergency legislation, if it is approved, the bill would become law as soon as Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signs it.

The deadline for everything to come together is April 10, Laidig said.

By that date, the annexation paperwork that Laidig has given to representatives at Lakeside and the Evergreens must be completed, the legislation must be approved and signed by the governor and the annexation must be recorded by the county.

"I have to get absentee ballots out," Laidig said. "And I have to know who's on the ballots."

Two women are in limbo over whether they will be able to run for office. Gail Broida, who lives at the Lakeside condos, has filed to run for the Columbia Council, and Linda Wengel, who lives at the Evergreens, has filed to run for the village board.

Richardson said that allowing people in the developments to participate in the elections is "a no-brainer."

"The basic principle here is Boston Tea Party kind of politics," he said. "It's taxation without representation."

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