Friday, January 23, 2009

Will There Be Another Special Election in District 4? (Updated!)

County Council Member Don Praisner, who won a special election to replace his wife last spring, is now in the hospital. There is no indication from the media of the seriousness of his health problems. But if Mr. Praisner left the council prior to the expiration of his term in 2010, would that automatically trigger a special election?

The answer is that it depends on the date he leaves the council. In a December 2007 post on special elections in Montgomery County, I found the following:

When a council vacancy occurs, a special election must be held if the vacancy “occurs before December 1 of the year before a year in which a quadrennial state election will be held.” (County code, Chapter 16, Sec. 16-17(a)(4)) So, if a county council member stepped down on 11/30/09, a special election would have to be held. But if a council member stepped down on 12/2/09, the rest of the council would appoint a replacement who would serve out the rest of the term (County charter, Sec. 106)...

The last time a county council vacancy occurred was when District 5 council member Derick Berlage stepped down in June 2002 to become the county’s Planning Chairman. As the date was too late to trigger the special election requirement, the county council appointed Donnell Peterman to serve out the remaining months of Berlage’s term. Peterman was appointed on the condition that he not leverage his appointed incumbency to seek office that year. Peterman honored that commitment in 2002, choosing instead to run (unsuccessfully) for an at-large seat in 2006.
The same Gazette article on Mr. Praisner's hospitalization indicates that his daughter, Alison Klumpp, is considering running for the District 4 seat. If she does, she will join a crowded field whenever the election is held.

Update: The Gazette's Janel Davis reports that Mr. Praisner will undergo surgery for colon cancer next week.