County council members to be elected by districts in 2014: What district are you in?

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, Frederick County voters will elect our first county executive and all seven members of a new county council.

frederick_county_sealOn Monday, December 1, 2014, the new county executive and county council will be inaugurated into office, marking the beginning of charter government in Frederick County, which is replacing the familiar commissioner form of government, having been adopted by county voters on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

Because charter government — and the specific charter written for Frederick County — will bring a lot of changes, it will take a while for county residents to become familiar with our new form of government.

There is a lot to learn about different aspects of the new charter. But it seems that the new electoral landscape is a good place to start.

Under the current county commissioner form of government, every four years county voters have elected all five members of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners. The five county commissioners serve as both the executive and legislative branches of county government. Those roles and responsibilities will now be separated. We’ll take a closer look at the nature and significance of that change later, but, for today, the focus is on the election.

In Frederick County, all five commissioners have been elected (or re-elected) at the same time, serving for four years. More to the point here, they have all been elected in at-large elections. In essence, that means that all five commissioners were elected by all county voters, with each voter having five votes to cast, first by registered Democrats and Republicans in their party’s primary, and then by all county voters in the general election.

(Note that in neighboring Carroll County, where they also have a commissioner form of government, there were three county commissioners, all elected at large, until that was changed prior to the 2010 election, when the Carroll County board was expanded to five commissioners, and the election changed to elect all five by separate districts.)

Unless and until the county charter is amended, only two of the new county council members will run and be elected at-large. The remaining five members will each be elected by separate and distinct districts, according to a new map that was drawn by the charter writing board, and approved as part of the overall charter.

From the charter:

The County shall be divided into five Council Districts, which shall be designated as Council District 1, Council District 2, Council District 3, Council District 4, and Council District 5. Until changed pursuant to Section 214 of this Charter, the boundaries of the districts shall be as provided in subsection (f) of this section.

Anyone who is a citizen of the United States and has been a resident of the council district for at least one year prior to the election is eligible to run to represent that district on the council. And anyone who is a citizen of the United States and has been a resident of the county for at least one year prior to the election is eligible to run for one of the two at-large seats on the council. (Note that for county executive and each of the five council seats, the top vote getter will will elected, but for the at-large seats, the two receiving the most votes shall be elected.)

gavel_etcSo, all registered voters in Frederick County will have the opportunity to vote for the county executive, for one county council member from their district, and for two council members running county wide. (In other words, each county voter will be able to help select three of the seven council members.)

Frederick County voters are not used to thinking of themselves as being in a county district, of course. And, at this juncture, very few probably have any idea what district they are in, and what other communities are in their district.

That will change as county residents start to hear from the candidates running for council in their district, and will certainly be reinforced by sample ballots they receive. I encourage you to learn more about our new charter government, and learning about your electoral district seems like a good place to start!

Below you will find a map of the county with all five districts delineated, as well as a separate map of each individual district. (Click on each image to open a larger and easier to read version.)

County Council Districts under the new charter government (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council Districts under the new charter government (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council District 1 (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council District 1 (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council District 2 (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council District 2 (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council District 3 (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council District 3 (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council District 4 (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council District 4 (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council District 5 (click on image to open a larger version)

County Council District 5 (click on image to open a larger version)

Below is text taken directly from the county charter about the five new county council districts.

204. Election

(a) The County shall be divided into five Council Districts,
which shall be designated as Council District 1, Council
District 2, Council District 3, Council District 4, and
Council District 5. Until changed pursuant to Section 214 of
this Charter, the boundaries of the districts shall be as
provided in subsection (f) of this section.

(b) From each of the five Council Districts, the voters shall
nominate and elect a council member who is a resident of the
Council District.

(c) The voters of the entire County shall nominate and elect
two council members. Among the candidates so nominated, the
two receiving the most votes shall be elected.

(d) No candidate may run for office simultaneously under the
provisions of subsections (b) and (c) of this section.

(e) Beginning in 2014 and every four years thereafter, council
members shall be elected at the same time as members of the
General Assembly are elected in the manner provided by law.

(f) The composition of the five Council Districts is:

  (1) Council District 1 consists of:

    (A) Frederick County Election Districts 1, 3, 12, 14,
        22 and 25;
    (B) Frederick County Election District 7, Precinct 1;
    (C) Frederick County Election District 23, Precinct 1;
    (D) Frederick County Election District 24, Precincts
        1 and 3.

  (2) Council District 2 consists of:

    (A) Frederick County Election Districts 8, 18 and 19;
    (B) Frederick County Election District 7, Precincts 2,
        3 and 4;
    (C) Frederick County Election District 9, Precincts 1,
        2, 3, 4, 5 and 7.

  (3) Council District 3 consists of:

    (A) Frederick County Election District 2, Precincts 2,
        4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 17;
    (B) Frederick County Election District 21, Precincts 2
        and 3;
    (C) Frederick County Election District 23, Precincts 2
        and 3;
    (D) Frederick County Election District 24, Precinct 2.

  (4) Council District 4 consists of:

    (A) Frederick County Election District 13;
    (B) Frederick County Election District 2, Precincts 1,
        3, 6, 7, 11, 14, 15, 16 and 18;
    (C) Frederick County Election District 9, Precincts 6
        and 8.

  (5) Council District 5 consists of:

    (A) Frederick County Election Districts 4, 5, 6, 10, 11,
        15, 16, 17, 20 and 26;
    (B) Frederick County Election District 21, Precinct 1.

(g) The descriptions of the Council Districts in this section,
   including all references to:

   (i) election districts are to the geographical boundaries
   of the election districts as they existed as of April 1,
   2010; and

   (ii) precincts are to the geographical boundaries of the
   precincts as reviewed and certified by the local board of
   supervisors of elections or their designees, before they
   were reported to the U.S. Bureau of the Census as part of
   the 2010 Census Redistricting Data Program and as those
   precinct lines are specifically indicated in the P.L.
   94–171 data or shown on the P.L. 94–171 census block maps
   provided by the U.S. Bureau of the Census and as reviewed
   and corrected by the Maryland Department of Planning.
Winchester Hall

Winchester Hall


More information

Frederick County’s Adopted Charter (as a pdf file):
http://frederickcountymd.gov/documents/1086/Adopted%20Frederick%20County%20Charter_201211081423273469.pdf

Frederick County Board of Elections:
http://frederickcountymd.gov/index.aspx?NID=1198

Adopted County Council District Maps (as pdf files):
http://frederickcountymd.gov/index.aspx?NID=5470

Maryland State Board of Elections:
http://www.elections.state.md.us/