‘Historic’ charter change sought
Amendment would pave the way for alderwomen to be part of document
“It’s time,” said Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, who represents Ward 4 on the Annapolis City Council.
Finlayson is one of four women on the city’s council, but the body’s charter doesn’t reflect that. In fact, there’s no mention of any alderwomen in the charter at all.
But that could change by next month, said Finlayson.
Finlayson, along with Alderwomen Rhonda Pindell Charles and Elly Tierney have cosponsored an amendment that would update the council’s charter to include gender-specific designations for members.
“There should be some clear recognition that aldermen are men and women,” Finlayson said.
If the council adopts the amendment, more than a dozen sections of its charter will have to be updated. Each time the word “alderman” appears, the word “alderwom-
en” will need to be added.
The amendment is in the public hearing phase, which will take place at the City Council’s next meeting Monday evening — barring any weather cancellations.
Alderwoman Tierney called the amendment “a big deal.”
“It’s historical in the sense that any charter amendment is historical,” she said. “Because you’re changing the charter, the charter of how our government is set up.”
Tierney admitted the way the charter is currently written — without the word “alderwomen” — doesn’t really bother her. But she’s still a strong supporter of the amendment.
“Being a female I felt obligated to sponsor it, but I’m ambivalent in the sense that just working in a male environment for most of my life, I never really thought that those things matter,” she said. “But I can see how it does to other people and I respect that. People have worked hard for it.”
This isn’t the first time council members have tried to update the charter to include the word “alderwomen.” Retired Alderwoman Classie Hoyle tried to change the charter a decade ago, Finlayson said.
“This is a further cleaning up of what Alderwoman Hoyle did more than 10 years ago,” she said.
After Monday’s public hearing, the charter amendment will be assigned to one of the council’s committees. Then, it will return to the full council for a second reading and a vote.
The City Council will also have second readers on bills to improve pension benefits for police and firefighters and fees for no net-loss forest conservation. The council could vote on these bills during the meeting that begins at 7 p.m. today at City Hall.
Bill R-50-18 would change normal retirement criteria from 25 to 20 years, increase the maximum pension benefit to 75 percent from 70 percent after 30 years of service and modify the deferred retirement option program to become cost neutral.