Baltimore Question P, 2002

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Question P was a referendum issue approved by the voters of Baltimore, Maryland, USA, in November 2002. Simply stated, the initiative proposed "that the Baltimore City Council consists of 14 members, each to be elected from a different district, and a Council President, to be elected Citywide."[1] Baltimore had 18 council members, thus, the question would have reduced the size of local government.

The effort to gather signatures to put Question P on the ballot, in the first place, was spearheaded by a grassroots political action coalition that included Community and Labor United for Baltimore (CLUB), the Baltimore Green Party, the Baltimore office of ACORN and state delegates Curt Anderson and Jill P. Carter. No other elected officials supported the measure. Prior to the vote on question P, the Baltimore City Council attempted a last ditch, back room maneuver to confuse voters and derail Question P: Question Q. Question Q would have also restructured the City Council; but question Q was struck down by the courts as not being in compliance with the City's open meeting laws.[2] Question P eventually passed with 67 percent of the vote, despite the disapproval of City Council President Sheila Dixon and Mayor Martin O'Malley.[3]

The affirmation of Question P[4] shrank and reshaped the Baltimore City Council from 6 three-member districts to 14 single-member districts or from 18 members to 14 members. The council president continued to be elected at-large. The changes were meant to make it easier for less-established candidates to run and win; however, none did in the 2004 election, the first held under the new arrangements. Several incumbent council members did lose their seats, since fewer seats were available; Mary Pat Clarke, the only non-incumbent to win a seat, was a well-established Baltimore political figure who had served as the president of the city council and had been a candidate for mayor in 1995.