Bringing Aberdeen charter changes to referendum 'a challenge,' mayor admits

Mayor Patrick McGrady poses for a photo in an aberdeen municipal parking lot in Aberdeen, MD on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.
Mayor Patrick McGrady poses for a photo in an aberdeen municipal parking lot in Aberdeen, MD on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (Jen Rynda/bsmg)

It's going to be a challenge for Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady to get all the signatures he needs by Saturday evening to bring the recent charter changes to referendum, he said earlier this week.

He didn't have the most recent count Wednesday afternoon, but said early in the week he had about 800 signatures out of the 1,990 needed (20 percent of the voters registered in Aberdeen) by midnight Saturday, 40 days after the changes were approved.


McGrady is hoping to bring to referendum changes approved last month by a 3-2 vote of the Aberdeen City Council to the city charter that he says changes the city's form of government.

His council colleagues who voted for the changes say the city remains a mayor and council form of government, and the changes were clarifications to what was already in the charter regarding the mayor's duties and those of the city manager and the council.

One Aberdeen City Council member has been saying for months the city doesn't have a vision, and the lack of one has contributed to the division among the

McGrady said another piece of mail was expected to be delivered Wednesday to Aberdeen voters to urge them to sign the petition. Mailings are being paid for by McGrady, and the mayor says no city funds are involved.

"That might put us over the edge, but if it doesn't, there will be lot of people who signed the petition and the reaction I'm getting is the council will need to revisit issue so it gets straightened out and voters have a say," McGrady said.

Signed petitions have "been coming in pretty fast," he said, but "1,990 is a big number."

Because the deadline is on a Saturday, the city clerk is working with the city attorney to determine if the deadline will be extended until Monday, or if McGrady will have to hand them in at midnight Saturday.

McGrady said if the referendum effort fails, the council will need to address the residents concerns.

"They will see that the people, the registered voters of Aberdeen want to be consulted before drastic changes to the structure of the city government are made," McGrady said. "After this is over, hopefully, we can sit down, talk about and work out a solution that makes sense for everybody."

Harford County’s “Choose Civility” campaign kicked off with a breakfast event at the Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp on Wednesday.