Council Structure Change on the Ballot in Montgomery

Last week the Montgomery County Council approved two resolutions to put charter amendments on the November ballot that would change the makeup of council districts.

Currently the council is composed of nine members, one elected to represent each of the five council districts and four at-large members. One proposal would add two districts and retain all four at-large positions, bringing the number of members to eleven. The lead sponsor, Councilmember Evan Glass, believes the initiative would add more representation but also allow residents to vote for more than one member by retaining at-large positions.

Another proposal would do away with at-large spots on the council and establish nine districts with one member elected per district. The proposal is being promoted by a group of residents who believe the number of at-large members leads to decisions being made by the more populous area in the southern part of the county.

From coverage in Source of the Spring:

“On its face, [this ballot question] might seem sensible,” said Glass during the his introduction of the 11-member resolution, “but such a proposal would actually be a step backwards. There are two main reasons why:

“First: Establishing nine districts would create a parochial system in which communities would be directly pitted against each other.

“And second: It would diminish the voice of every resident, by reducing the number of people they can vote for—from five to one. Why would anyone want to give up 80% of their elected representation on the County Council?”

Instead, noting the growth of the county’s population since the council was expanded to nine members in 1986, Glass said, “Adding two districts would put us more in line with comparable jurisdictions, increase the diversity of the council, and allow residents to maintain an important component of our current system––voting for more than one member of the council.”

Voters in Montgomery will have both options on the ballot in November. For more information read the full article.