Measure moving city elections to presidential sked clears House

March 24, 2012|by Annie Linskey

A bill to move Baltimore City's election to the presidential cycle cleared the House of Delegates Saturday, setting the stage for MayorStephanie Rawlings-Blakeand the current city council to be in office for an additional year.

The legislation would move the next city primary to 2016. The city will have to approve another measure to move the general to that year. Without the changes, the next city election would be in 2015.

There is wide agreement that the city should move its election an issue that gained fresh urgency after record low turnout during the city elections last fall.

However there are many, including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who think Baltimore should be on the gubernatorial schedule, just like all of the state's 23 counties.

"It doesn't make sense," said Miller, who nevertheless allowed a similar bill out of his chamber.

"Baltimore city wants to be treated like the major counties in every other way except this. It is a large subdivision and their people should be voting when there is the most turnout."

Baltimore politicians benefit from having an election cycle that is out of sync with the rest of the state because it allows lawmakers to run for higher office without giving up their day jobs.

The House bill was sponsored by Baltimore Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks, who has pushed similar legislation in the past. He noted that the city politicians have always had an advantage with the off-cycle election, and he did not want to remove that perk by putting the city in line with the gubernatorial schedule.

A similar bill has passed in the Senate, but the chambers still must pass each other's bills.

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