There was a time when the Greenbelt City Council hammered out pending election-related legislation no later than the end of spring in election years, well before incumbents become candidates and election issues are likely to morph into campaign issues. This year, there may be a race against the clock. The November 7 city council election is less than four months away, the opening of the period for filing to run for office less than six weeks away, and a number of matters are still undecided.
In a push to resolve issues that might involve amending the city charter, council met in a worksession on July 5 that lasted nearly four hours. The topic most likely to be acted on this year is lowering the age for voting in city elections to 16. Another topic receiving attention, not for action now but because it is permitted by an increasing number of Maryland local jurisdictions, was allowing city residents who are not U.S. citizens to vote in city elections. Two topics resulted from requests submitted by residents: the appointment of the mayor and mayor pro tem by the council; and the establishment of wards for electing councilmembers, rather than having all candidates run at large. Other topics were briefly touched on.
Two years ago the city’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) submitted a report to council recommending that residents ages 16 and 17 be allowed to vote in city elections. At that time, Takoma Park and Hyattsville were the first two cities in America to reduce the municipal voting age. Last fall, the City of Glenarden joined them. Although the committee members who were 16 when they wrote the report are now 18 and can vote anyway, YAC has continued to work actively to persuade council to make the change.
There is more of this story in the July 13 News Review