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Our View: Considering candidacy? Still time to enter Carroll County municipal races | COMMENTARY

On Monday night, residents of Mount Airy will learn exactly who will be running for mayor and for two spots on the Town Council. And, over the next few weeks Carroll County’s other seven municipalities will announce candidates for their elections, all of which will be held over 15 days in May.

We encourage residents of our county’s cities and towns to, first of all, vote in these elections because, traditionally, far too few do, and to vote for someone who will work hard to make a difference. Could that someone be you?

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There’s still time in each municipality to file as a candidate for office. But time is running out.

The deadline for Mount Airy is, obviously, Monday for the May 3 election. For Taneytown, the deadline is March 22 for the May 3 election. For Sykesville, the deadline is March 22 for the May 4 election. For Manchester, the deadline is April 5 for the May 18 election. And for Hampstead, New Windsor, Union Bridge and Westminster, the deadline is April 12 for May 11 elections. Like Mount Airy, New Windsor, Sykesville and Westminster have mayoral and council races while the other four have only council races this time around.

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As we contend in this space at least every two years, while citizens focus on what is going on in Washington or Annapolis, much of what affects our day to day lives goes on at the local level, in city and town halls, by elected officials who live nearby. Municipal councils will be setting our water rates, paving our neighborhood streets, deciding whether we need more police officers to enforce speed limits near our homes and whether to approve new development. They’ll be making key budget decisions. They will make an impact.

Record numbers turned out in November for the presidential elections. It will likely be more a much more modest group that votes in May.SO many races that will help shape life for municipal residents over the next four years will be decided by a few hundred voters.

The best way to encourage better participation among the electorate is to provide a large number of candidates vying for the various posts. Too many candidates for mayor or council run unopposed. And uncontested elections offer little incentive for voters.

In Manchester in 2019, for example, neither the mayor nor two incumbent council members faced competition. And only 47 people bothered to do their civic duty. By contrast, Taneytown had four candidates for mayor and a contested council election in 2019 and more than 1,000 people cast ballots.

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Other than giving choices for residents and encouraging turnout on election day, the best part of having a number of candidates is that issues will be brought up and debated. Two years ago, the mayoral and council campaigns in Taneytown got a little contentious a times, particularly on social media. But raising questions, making points and calling out opponents for past decisions is more than fair game and it ensures that important issues will be addressed.

Candidates should have to state clearly what they intend to do if elected and be held accountable if they fail to deliver.

The Community Media Center will, again, present a livestream of candidate forums from each of the municipal elections. These forums are a great opportunity for candidates to differentiate themselves from their opponents, talk about their vision for their municipality and just help voters get to know them.

Here’s hoping those forums will include a robust array of candidates for every race.

If you have a question you would like to see answered by council or mayoral candidates in your municipality, send it to bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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