Here is a link to the agenda for the September 21, 2016 Takoma Park City Council agenda:
https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-september-21-2016/. The key agenda item is a resolution directing City staff to continue moving forward with work aimed at shifting our local elections starting in 2018 from odd to even years (also known as synchronization). In addition, we will have presentations on Emergency Preparedness; conversion to LED streetlights; and the Pavement Condition Report. We also have a 6:00 PM closed session to discuss the City Manager's performance evaluation.
Local events. This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of being a judge at the annual Old Town Business Association pie contest. There were a total of 57 pies entered into the apple, peach and “other” categories. With my fellow judges (including Mayor Stewart, Councilmember Male, and Republic co-owner Danny Wells), we picked winners in 7 different categories. I may never eat dessert again!
This coming weekend, I hope to see residents at one or more of the following events:
Saturday, September 24, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM: Play Day (at Takoma Park Middle School)
Also on Saturday, 4:00 – 8:00 PM: Takoma Foundation Beerfest at the Cady-Lee (depending on when you’re there, you may see me taking tickets or pouring beer)
Sunday, September 25, 4:00 – 7:00 PM: Unity in the Community block party at Capital City Cheesecake
Also, this Thursday (September 22), I’ll be holding Office Hours in the Community Center’s third floor conference room from 4:00 – 6:00 PM. With luck, we’ll have double the turnout at the last Office Hours (which would mean two residents show up).
I support moving our local elections to even years in order to promote increased voter turnout (our local elections have turnouts of 10 – 20 %, with State and Federal election turnouts running at 40 – 75 %). The non-binding referendum in support of synchronizing our elections which was passed by a large margin in November calls for making the shift to even years contingent on our being able to preserve Takoma Park’s unique local election features (16 - 17 year-old and non-citizen voters; instant runoff; and same day registration). City staff have been working with our Board of Elections to explore options for making the switch, and the likely approach would be to use the four Takoma Park precincts we currently have in Presidential and Gubernatorial voting years, with a separate local election check-in and ballot at each precinct. This is the model followed by Ocean City.
On Monday of this week, I joined City Clerk Jessie Carpenter and members of our Board of Elections for a presentation to the Montgomery County Elections Board to get feedback on our synchronization work. In order to be able to implement the shift, we’ll need to have acceptance from the County Board, but they are focused now on preparations for the November 2016 elections, so they will consider the Takoma Park plan formally in January. Meanwhile, in this week’s discussion County Board Members’ reactions seemed positive, with the main area of concern being whether there would be any extra costs for the County. The initial answer to that question appears to be “no.”
There are several other logistical questions -- relating, for example, to early voting and absentee ballots -- that also have to be worked out before we make a final decision on synchronization. We’ll be voting Wednesday night on a resolution that expresses support for continued work by our staff on synchronization. I will be voting yes, but I would note that this is not a vote on actually approving synchronization. That would come later if and when we are able to address all the outstanding issues.
Please let me know if you have questions or comments about any of the above agenda items. In addition, if you would prefer to have these City Council update messages sent directly to your email address, let me know and I will add you to the list.
Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One