City elections could move to presidential cycle

March 21, 2012|by Annie Linskey

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake could be in office for five years, under a new election plan being debated in the Maryland Senate. After the 2016 elections, the mayor and other city elected officials would serve four year terms.

Rawlings-Blake sought the change this year, and the Senate gave it an initial nod Wednesday morning. A final vote on the measure is expected later this week. The House of Delegates would have to pass the measure too.

Putting Baltimore on the federal election cycle is intended to boost turnout, which was at a near record low in last November's election. Unlike the state's 23 counties, Baltimore holds "off-off year elections" on the year after the gubernatorial ballot.

The bill would move Baltimore's primary election to put it in sync with the federal primary. The city can change the general via referendum. It was sponsored by Baltimore Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden.

The original version of the Senate bill (SB597) sought to move the city to the gubernatorial schedule, but it was amended in committee to align the city with the federal elections instead. Doing so continues to give local city officials an advantage when they seek state offices -- they won't need to give up their day jobs to pursue their aspirations.

The timing would put Rawlings-Blake up for re-election in November 2016, just when some are speculating that a former Baltimore City mayor could be on the federal ballot.

* An earlier version of this blog indicated the amendment to align the city cycle with the federal cycle was made by Sen. Catherine Pugh. It was not. The Sun regrets the error.

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