Mayor Craig A. Moe has asked the Laurel City Council to convene in Special Council Session on Monday, August 8, 2011 at 6:00pm to consider an emergency amendment to clarify candidate qualifications to Ordinance Number 1694, AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND SECTION 6-37 ENTITLED “ADDITIONAL QUALIFICATIONS” OF THE CITY CODE TO REQUIRE A CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK BEFORE A PERSON MAY QUALIFY AS A CANDIDATE FOR ELECTED POSITIONS IN THE CITY, which was adopted by the Mayor and City Council on October 25, 2010.
Mayor Moe stated it is important to have this legislation amendment in place as soon as possible prior to the September 6, 2011 Candidate filing deadline for the City’s November 1st Mayor and City Council election. He will ask the City Council to suspend the rules on August 8, 2011 in order to adopt the amendment to Ordinance 1694. The amendment will provide clarification to the legislation that was adopted in October 2010.
Mayor Moe advised this clarification is necessary after inquiries regarding the Ordinance’s intent were presented to the City Solicitor Robert A. Manzi by the Prince George's County NAACP and ACLU. Specifically, the wording in the existing legislation may be interpreted as discriminating to potential candidates to whom the phrase "background investigation" may have many connotations. Mayor Moe stated the intention of the original legislation was to add transparency to Laurel's government and to assure Laurel's citizens the opportunity to better know the candidates seeking office.
Additionally, the City's current legislation does not recognize Maryland law that restores voting rights to convicted felons who have completed their adjudicated sentence. Registered voters are considered qualified candidates.
In a meeting with President Bob Ross, NAACP and Ms. Deborah Jeon, ACLU Legal Director, and other representatives from each of the organizations. Mr. Manzi, City Attorney, City Administrator Kristie M. Mills, and Clerk to the Council Kimberley A. Rau, represented the City of Laurel. It was mutually agreed to be in the City’s best interests to present legislation to the City Council that will mirror the Maryland State Law regarding candidate eligibility. The Candidate Disclosure Statement will also be amended to conform to the amending legislation.
As part of this press release, Mayor Moe stated “I want to express my appreciation to the NAACP and the ACLU for contacting the City with its concerns, and especially for the assistance given in providing recommended language for the proposed amendment to the legislation. The Mayor also thanked City Council President Leszcz and the members of the City Council for allowing this Special Council Session to be held in a most timely manner.”
Mayor Moe requested the Citizens of Laurel to obtain a copy of the amending legislation and provide their input in the manner most convenient to them; either by attending the August 8th public hearing at 6:00 p.m., providing written testimony, or by email to City Administrator Kristie Mills at [email protected] or you may contact any member of the Laurel City Council at 301-725-5300 x 2121. Information will also be available on the City's web site, www.laurel.md.us, Facebook and Twitter.
Mayor Moe encourages all Laurel voters to be involved in the 2011 election and most importantly, to vote on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.