ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — The busy election season has led to at least one ballot referendum being overshadowed.
In Allegheny County, voters will decide if they want to change the Home Rule Charter to allow county councilmembers to seek other political offices without resigning.
“There’s been so many things taking place, redistricting and the whole bit, that this has flown under the radar,” Councilman Sam DeMarco said. DeMarco also heads the county’s Republican party.
“I’m getting tons of questions. People asking what exactly are they voting on. What is this ballot question,” Councilwoman Bethany Hallam said.
The question is a simple “yes” or “no.” A “yes” vote supports changing the charter. A “no” vote supports the status quo and would require council members to resign to run for another office.
“On the one hand, I don’t think it’s fair that councilmembers, who have a part-time role, have to resign their office. On the other hand, having served in this role for seven years, I don’t necessarily like the idea of people using this as a political platform,” DeMarco said.
“Personally, I’m going to vote ‘yes.’ But the reality is it’s so hard for me to go out and tell any of my constituents that they need to worry about this and they need to vote ‘yes,’” Hallam, a Democrat, said.
Hallam says there are more important things to focus on this election cycle. She also has a theory on why the referendum hasn’t been more widely publicized.
“Council members are afraid to take a side. They don’t know if they want to seem selfish by saying they support it or voting against their own interest if they vote against it,” she said.
DeMarco says he can go either way but is happy with the process.
“I think it needs to happen the way it is with the input of the people,” he said.
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