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Mayor's Report for April 2003

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Upcoming Municipal Elections: Why Your Vote and Participation Matters

Every two years, our town elects a mayor and six members to the Riverdale Park Town Council. Since redistricting occurred this year due to the results of the 2000 census, new ward boundaries have been created. While there was a desire to keep the boundaries identical to the last election, federal law prohibited this due to population shifts within our borders. As a result, some boundaries have been enlarged and others contracted.

The current election cycle is particularly vital. Over the course of the past 23 months since the last election, there has been a new spirit of cooperation between the mayor and the town council. The result has been an unprecedented period of economic growth, revitalization, and new thinking about the role of government in facilitating sustained economic development and improved service delivery to our residents. It has also been an era where the mayor and council saw themselves as members of the same team, not opponents in some political folly. I hope this relationship continues into the new Administration and beyond. 

As you may have read, due to my new job as Chief of Staff to County Executive Jack Johnson, I have decided it is best not to run for re-election. While I truly would like to continue serving, the time demands of my new post prevent me from devoting the amount of time I have during my tenure as mayor. You can be assured, however, that the interests of Riverdale Park will continue to have importance in the county government. In addition, at least two members of the council have decided not to seek re-election, and a third is seeking the office of mayor. Based on the new ward boundaries, two incumbent councilmembers are now in the same ward, and only one can be re-elected. As a result of all this, at a minimum, at least half of the town government will change in June, when the newly elected officials take office.

Historically, a candidateâs forum will be held sometime prior to the election. Residents and those seeking office will be encouraged to attend. At a minimum, people who are eligible to vote should register for the May 7 election. All registration forms must be received at the Board of Elections no later than April 14th. Voter registration forms can be obtained from the town hall during regular business hours or from the Board of Elections. Libraries and the MVA also have forms.   

Anyone who is interested in seeking office may be pick up the petition and candidate forms at the town hall during regular business hours. To be eligible, you must be a town resident for at least six months (twelve months if you are seeking the office of mayor), live in the ward you intend to represent, and be at least 25 years old. To qualify for the ballot, you must submit a small filing fee and a petition of at least 15 registered voters in your ward (for council elections). Those seeking the mayorâs position must submit a petition with at least 25 signatures of registered voters in the town. All petitions and applications are due in the town hall no later than April 10th.

In past elections, Riverdale Park has been a hot bed of local political activity with one of the highest percentage turnouts of any municipality in the county, or even the country. Nearly half of all registered voters in our town usually cast their ballot and exercise this important right. That proud tradition has meant that elections have been contested and residents have voiced loud and clear preferences for their elected officials.

As the May 7 elections approach, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the candidates and read the political literature that you will receive in the coming weeks. If you are running for office, take the time to meet your neighbors and learn about their issues and what they believe their elected officials should be doing in the town. And most important, take the time to vote in the May 7 elections at the town hall. The polls are open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. We often hear about the precious thing called democracy. Let's do our part to show it is alive and thriving here in Riverdale Park. Thank you. ----------------------------------

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