Vot­ers weigh in on series of bal­lot ques­tions

Pub­lic fi­nanc­ing of elec­tions car­ries in Howard, school board term lim­its in Car­roll

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Pamela Wood Bal­ti­more Sun Media Group re­porters Fa­timah Waseem, Amanda Yea­ger, Heather Nor­ris and David An­der­son con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. pwood@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/pwoodreporter

Bal­ti­more-area vot­ers faced bal­lot ques­tions in their home ju­ris­dic­tions on is­sues re­lated to cam­paign fi­nance, term lim­its and zon­ing pro­vi­sions for out­let malls.

In Howard County, vot­ers ap­proved a pro­posal to es­tab­lish a pub­lic fund­ing sys­tem for can­di­dates run­ning for County Coun­cil and county ex­ec­u­tive.

The plan, which takes ef­fect for the 2022 elec­tion, will re­quire can­di­dates to raise a cer­tain amount of cam­paign funds to qual­ify. Some of their do­na­tions will then be matched by the pub­lic fund.

The ques­tion was placed on the bal­lot by the County Coun­cil, sup­ported by its Demo­cratic mem­bers. Groups such as Com­mon Cause and Mary­land PIRG back the plan, say­ing pub­lic fi­nanc­ing can level the elec­tion play­ing field and limit spe­cial­in­ter­est in­flu­ence.

But op­po­nents, in­clud­ing the group Howard County Cit­i­zens Against Ques­tion A and County Ex­ec­u­tive Al­lan Kit­tle­man, a Repub­li­can, said they dis­agreed with us­ing tax dol­lars to fund po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns, and said it would es­sen­tially force res­i­dents to sup­port can­di­dates — whether they agree with their po­si­tions or not.

Howard County res­i­dents also ap­proved a change to the county bud­get process al­low­ing the County Coun­cil to cut the bud­get, then re­al­lo­cate that money into the county pen­sion sys­tem or a re­serve fund. Cur­rently, the coun­cil is lim­ited in how it can re­al­lo­cate funds.

In Bal­ti­more County, with most precincts re­port­ing, vot­ers backed cre­ation of a char­ter re­view com­mis­sion to rec­om­mend changes in how county gov­ern­ment op­er­ates.

The idea for the com­mis­sion was ad­vo­cated by County Coun­cil­man David Marks, who said it’s needed to help im­prove gov­ern­ment ef­fi­ciency.

The com­mis­sion would meet ev­ery 10 years to rec­om­mend changes to the struc­ture of gov­ern­ment. Vot­ers would then de­cide on those pro­pos­als in sub­se­quent elec­tions.

Bal­ti­more County vot­ers also ap­proved a pro­posal to al­low an out­let mall near the in­ter­sec­tion of In­ter­state 95 and Route 43 in White Marsh.

The ques­tion was made moot ear­lier this year when Paragon Out­let Part­ners se­cured re­zon­ing to per­mit the project at the site. Still, op­po­nents col­lected enough sig­na­tures to put the ques­tion on the bal­lot.

With most precincts re­port­ing, Bal­ti­more County vot­ers sup­ported by wide mar­gins bal­lot ques­tions on spend­ing that would al­low the county to bor­row money for projects such as school ren­o­va­tions, roads and pur­chase of new park­land.

In Anne Arun­del County, vot­ers faced bal­lot ques­tions aimed at up­dat­ing gov­ern­ment op­er­a­tions. Some were tech­ni­cal — such as get­ting rid of a rule re­quir­ing reprint­ing of the county code ev­ery decade, and chang­ing the ti­tle of the county eco­nomic devel­op­ment of­fi­cer.

Oth­ers were more sub­stan­tive — in­clud­ing a mea­sure re­quir­ing con­tracts worth $75,000 to be com­pet­i­tively bid — in­stead of the cur­rent $25,000 thresh­old — and an­other re­quir­ing the county ex­ec­u­tive to hold two pub­lic meet­ings before in­tro­duc­ing the an­nual bud­get.

Vot­ers were on track to ap­prove all of Anne Arun­del’s bal­lot ques­tions.

In Car­roll County, vot­ers over­whelm­ingly ap­proved a bal­lot ques­tion plac­ing term lim­its on mem­bers of the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion. Mem­bers will be al­lowed to serve only two con­sec­u­tive four-year terms.

And in Har­ford County, with most precincts re­port­ing, vot­ers ap­provef the lone county bal­lot ques­tion to place Har­ford’s prop­erty man­age­ment un­der the purview of the direc­tor of ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­stead of the county direc­tor of pro­cure­ment.

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