City elections should coincide with state's

Election officials predict a record low turnout for the Maryland presidential primary election ("Key races, little interest in primary," April 2). Meanwhile, the state legislature just passed a law that would move the election of Baltimore's mayor to coincide with presidential elections on the theory that the turnout would improve. What's wrong with this picture, and why do all other jurisdictions hold their leadership elections to coincide with election of the governor, not president?

Under this system, Baltimore's mayor could run to become Maryland's governor without giving up his or her seat in City Hall. Since the mayor doesn't have to actually decide between offices, Baltimore will have a part time mayor/part time candidate every few years as the mayor-who-would-be-governor splits time between City Hall and the campaign trail. This is good for an aspiring politician, but bad for citizens.

If signed by Gov.Martin O'Malley, the law would also give our first-term mayor a "free year" in office extending her term, and that of the city council, to five years instead of four. Is it really fair to the taxpayers of Baltimore to have the legislature choose the mayor for a year?

Governor O'Malley should reject the change in election dates and move to bring Baltimore in line with all the counties with the city mayoral election held in gubernatorial selection years. This would increase both turnout and fairness, two things in short supply in our city elections.

Mac Nachlas, Baltimore

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