Petition signatures verified

Centreville Five Alive members watch as petition signatures are counted and verified by members of the Centreville Board of Elections.

CENTREVILLE — A vote for or against a proposed Charter Amendment to increase the number of Town Council Members from three to five will appear on the October ballot for the Town of Centreville.

The petition to amend the charter was begun by the group Centreville Five Alive, which knocked on doors and sought input from town residents. The town required only 677 signatures for the petition to proceed to a ballot. In the end, 838 signatures were verified by the Centreville Board of Supervisors of Elections.

The members of Centreville Five Alive are very excited about the upcoming election and the number of young candidates who are considering getting involved and volunteering for a council of five, said Elaine Studley, adding this coupled with a renewal of downtown and restaurants working on outdoor cafe’s has made this a very exciting time to live and work in Centreville.

Studley notes that during the petitioning process residents mentioned taxation, the rate of rise on water bills and increased oversight for town projects as important priorities. The general view of signers was that the a Council of Five would give the Centreville town residents more eyes and ears on each project, she said.

Many petition signers also mentioned a desire to see young people on the council for fresh new ideas. Areas with larger groups of young families such as NorthBrook were particularly enthusiastic about bringing young members on to the council. This is reflected in a candidate for the upcoming race being a young entrepreneur from NorthBrook, said Studley, referring to Josh Shonts bid for election.

“The members of Centreville Five Alive are optimistic that this process will play out to the advantage of everyone,” said Studley. “New eyes and ears on council will help us achieve broader representation and bring early attention to new town projects. Overlapping terms will help newcomers learn from the council members with longstanding institutional knowledge about Centreville traditions and procedures.

One of the goals of Centreville Five Alive has been to sustain a respectful conversation and town council has really supported this with sitting two members as petition signers and supporters.”

Eric Johnson, a Queen Anne’s County native who recently returned to Centreville and opened Johnson’s Game Vault, said, “We are confident we will have candidates to run for the new seats. I am actually exploring a run for one of the new seats myself.”

While Johnson grew up in Centreville, he did not return to the area (after time serving in the Air Force, etc.) until April 2018. In order to meet the residency requirement to run for office, citizens must have resided in Centreville for a minimum of two years prior to the election in which they seek to run.

“I think the candidates running this fall will have some tough questions to consider from the electorate,” said Johnson, “As an example, I think voters want to know where candidates stand on issues of spending and investment of town funds, economic development initiatives, and as always, taxation.”

The members of Centreville Five Alive said they are grateful to all of the citizens and to the council members who came out to support the project and made the experience a positive one.

The resolution to set the date and language for the referendum election was on the Aug. 8 town council agenda. A draft of the resolution is posted on the town’s website with the Aug. 8 agenda.

The resolution only requires one reading before being placed on the ballot. It is required to be passed within 60 days of the petition being presented to the Town Council, 60 days being Aug. 19, verified Town Clerk Carolyn Brinkley.

If passed, a spring special election would be consistent with Maryland law.

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