Charter questions could change Rockville elections -- Gazette.Net


In addition to selecting a mayor and council members for the next two years, Rockville voters will have an opportunity to let officials know what they think about possible changes to the city’s charter proposed by the Rockville Charter Review Commission.

The charter questions, which deal with proposed changes to the city’s election process, are on the ballot as advisory referenda. The Nov. 5 vote is nonbinding, and the Mayor and Council have the final say in whether or not to make any changes to the charter. Voters will have a chance to vote “yes,” “no,” or “no opinion.”

The Rockville Community Coalition held a forum in March to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed changes. The questions that will be on the ballot, as well as some of the arguments forum participants and others have made for or against changing the charter are summarized below.

In the city of Rockville, the term of office for the mayor and the council members is currently two years. Do you favor increasing the term from two years to four years?

The argument for voting yes: Two-year terms distract officials from governing since they have to start running for re-election again not long into the term.

The argument for voting no: Frequent elections keep citizens’ attention on city policy and keeps officials more accountable to voters.

City of Rockville elections are currently held every two years, in odd numbered years. Do you favor moving the city elections to be held every four years to coincide with the presidential election?

The argument for voting yes: More people would vote in the city elections, since many more people vote in presidential elections than in city elections.

The argument for voting no: The presidential and other campaigns would take attention and resources away from the city’s elections and issues.

The city of Rockville is currently governed by a mayor and four councilmembers. Do you favor increasing the membership of the Rockville mayor and council to a mayor and six council members?

The argument for voting yes: Adding two councilmembers would mean more elected officials to share the workload of governing and to listen to residents’ concerns.

The argument for voting no: More people on the council would make it harder for them to reach a timely decision. The city might also have trouble finding enough people to run for the seats.