Here’s a link to the January 25 City Council Agenda: https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-january-25-2017/. We’ll be voting to authorize a contract for iCan Shine, Inc. to provide a bicycle camp for students with disabilities this summer, and taking a preliminary vote on budget changes relating to our Community Development Block Grant program. In addition, we will receive an update from the City’s Board of Elections on the election synchronization initiative.
iCan Shine Contract. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/agenda-20170125-1.pdf. The iCan Shine Bike Camp, scheduled for the week of June 26, 2017, is sponsored by the City’s Safe Routes to School program. It’s a week-long “learn to ride” bike camp for students with disabilities. I’ll be voting in favor of the contract.
Budget Amendment. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/agenda-20170125-2.pdf. The budget amendment includes two changes. First, $5,240 originally allocated for the CDBG CHEER Program – which has been discontinued -- has been reallocated to two other programs that have already received CDBG funds. The Educare Support program was increased by $2,200 to $5,750 and the Village of Takoma program (on behalf of the organization Parents of Special Needs Adults) was increased by $3,010 to $7,900. The second change will provide additional funds for intern services in the City’s Human Resources office, needed in part because of staff absence for medical reasons. The original appropriation of $10,000 would be increased by $13,000 to $23,000. I support the budget amendment.
Election Synchronization. https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2017/agenda-20170125-2.pdf. Based on the overwhelming voter support in the 2015 City referendum for the idea of synchronizing our local elections with State and Federal elections (meaning that we would move our ballots from odd to even years), the Council and the City’s Board of Elections have been investigating the logistics involved in conducting our elections alongside Montgomery County at Takoma Park precincts on the day of the general election in 2018.
No final decisions have yet been made on whether to shift to even years, and (also in line with the referendum) the Council has committed to going forward with synchronization only if we can preserve unique features of our local elections like non-citizen and 16 and 17-year old voting, same day registration, and automatic run-off.
This agenda item will include discussion of Ocean City’s experience with side-by-side elections; an update on the Montgomery County Board of Elections’ response to our plans (the County Board will be discussing the Takoma Park plans at its January 23 meeting); and a review of the potential timetable for Takoma Park City Charter changes that would be needed in order to synchronize our elections.
I’m supportive of making the switch to even years because of the likely substantial increase in voter turnout, but only if we can preserve the local features mentioned above. I look forward to this next round of discussions on this important topic.
As always, feel free to be in touch with questions or comments about any of these agenda items.
Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One