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Proposed Legislation Could Allow County Council to Stagger Elections of Council Members

In November voters in Montgomery County sent politically minded folks in the County into a frenzy with the passage of the Term Limits Referendum. It made sitting Council members upset. It made potential candidates eyes go wide with wonder at the possibilities. It set the County’s political machines on their ear.

It also meant that there was the future potential for a County Council which could lose all or most of their members. Future sitting council members could be forced out due to term limits or voted out by losing an election. That would mean a lot of knowledge and wisdom leaving the county council at once. As such, Delegate Al Carr, Jr., (District 18 – Chevy Chase) set to work to find some way to lessen the sting.

To do that, Carr came up with an old idea, one that Cecil County enacted 15 years ago — staggering election terms of local officials. However, critics are calling it a political end-run around the voters’ desire for term limits.

Last month, Carr introduced House Bill 348, which seeks to amend the Maryland State Constitution to allow authorizing the future sitting members of the Montgomery County Council to enact legislation to stagger the terms of office for the members of the Council.

Currently, all members of the County Council are up for re-election at that same time, during the gubernatorial, or mid-term elections which are held every four years. The next council election would be held in 2018.

House Bill 348 calls for allowing the Council to decide if some members of the county council may be elected at the presidential general election and some members may be elected at the gubernatorial general election. The effect would be to stagger the election of council members so that some seats on the County Council would be up for election every two years. However, each elected council member would serve a four-year term.

Carr said that the bill was not a new idea and that he proposed a similar bill last year, however, last year’s bill would have allowed for all counties in Maryland to stagger elections. “The feedback I got la