Baltimore Press

Bill Would Keep 1 Year Residency Rules

City Councilman Robert Curran (D, 3rd) last night intro­duced a bill that addressed the General Assembly’s recent tinkering with the structure of Baltimore’s city government.

The reduction of residency requirements for a mayoral candidate in Baltimore—from one year to six months- has potentially done the same for the City Council President and possibly the Comptroller, Curran said.

Curran said that Article V, Sections 1(a) and 3(a) of the Baltimore City Charter, which outline the election requirements for the Comptroller and City Council President, state that the two positions will be filled by indi­viduals “who shall possess the qualifi­cations required for the Mayor of the City.” Curran believes that the lan­guage of the Charter, when combined with the new language prescribed by the General Assembly, creates a six month requirement for the Comptroller and the City Council President. A six month residency requirement for the President of the City Council would contrast with a one year requirement for eveiy mem­ber of the Council, according to Curran. “When has a presiding mem­ber had less restrictions than other members?” Curran asked.

Departing from protocol, Council President Lawrence Bell sent the bill to the Committee of the Whole, rather than the Judiciaiy Committee. Councilwoman Stephanie Rawlings (D, 5th), daughter of State Delegate Pete Rawlings (D, 40th), chairs that committee. Del. Rawlings was a co­sponsor the the original House Bill which reduced the residency require­ments. His efforts were believed to be an attempt to open the race to NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, who moved to Baltimore County and would not be eligible to run for Mayor without a change in the one year residency requirement.

At last week’s meeting, Bell co­sponsored a bill that would override the reduction in the residency require­ment for the Mayor. He also assigned that bill to the Committee of the Whole, making an end-run on Councilwoman Rawlings. Bell, who is a probable candidate for Mayor, would like to keep the popular Mfume out of the race. As of this writing, City Solicitor Otho Thompson has not responded to an April 23rd letter in which Curran asked for a formal legal opinion on whether the Comptroller and President of the City Council posi­tions are controlled by the reduced residency standard created for the Mayor.

Curran has become a staunch defender of the City Council’s right to direct changes in the City Charter. He also has spoken against the General Assembly’s effort to change the timing of the City elections to cor­respond with the Gubernatorial elec­tion. “Who should care about this? There are nineteen people right here who should care about this,” Curran said, referring to the members of City Council. The Council has only until the end of June 30 to pass legislation to reaffirm the 1 year residency requirements for the Mayor’s posi­tion.

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