There shall be a County Council of Cecil County, Maryland, composed of five Council members.
All legislative powers which may be exercised by the County under the Maryland Constitution and laws of the state are vested in the Council, subject to those powers retained by the people of the County as hereinafter set forth in Section 308 of this Charter.
In all functions and deliberations, the Council shall act as a body. It shall have no power to create standing committees or to delegate any of its functions and duties to a smaller number of its members than the whole. The Council may, however, appoint special ad hoc committees solely for the purpose of inquiry and fact finding.
The County shall be divided into five residency districts, the boundaries of which shall be established pursuant to Section 214 of this Charter. The five residency districts shall be designated District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, and District 5.
A Council member shall reside in each of the five residency districts and be elected at-large, subject to the provisions of this section.
At the same time the elections for President and Vice President of the United States are conducted, one Council member from District 1 and one Council member from District 5 shall be elected. In the at-large election, the candidate who both resides in a given district and who receives the most votes of all the candidates residing in the district shall be elected to office.
At the same time the election for Governor of Maryland is conducted, one Council member from District 2, one Council member from District 3, and one Council member from District 4 shall be elected. In the at-large election, the candidate who both resides in a given district and who receives the most votes of all the candidates residing in the district shall be elected to office.
Each Council member shall be a citizen of the United States and, for at least one year immediately preceding election or appointment, a resident and registered voter of the County. Each Council member shall be a resident of the residency district from which the Council member is elected or appointed for at least six months immediately preceding election or appointment.
While serving as a Council member, no Council member may:
Hold any other elected public office;
Be employed in an appointed office or any nonelected position in any public agency, department, board, commission, or other public body that receives funds through the budget or is involved in the public business of the County; or
Receive compensation for serving in an appointed office or any nonelected position in any public agency, department, board, commission, or other public body that receives funds through the budget or is involved in the public business of the County.
A retired, former County employee receiving a pension shall not be considered to be serving in a public body for purposes of this section and shall be eligible to be a Council member if all the other provisions of this section are satisfied.
A Council member shall hold office for a term beginning at 12:00 noon on the first Monday of December next following the election of the Council member and ending at 12:00 noon on the first Monday of December in the fourth year thereafter, or until a successor is qualified.
Each Council member shall receive as compensation and allowances for the performance of public duties under this Charter the sum of not less than $25,000 per annum. A Council member shall not accrue annual leave or be entitled to any payment in lieu thereof. The compensation and allowances shall be in full compensation for all services performed by members of the Council as required by this Charter, but shall not preclude reasonable and necessary expenses as may be provided in the budget. The County Council shall establish by ordinance a Compensation Review Commission every four years to review the Council's compensation and allowances in accordance with the provisions of Article 25A, Subsection 5(AA), of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
No Council member may forfeit office by reason of a change in the boundaries of any residency district made during the Council member's term of office.
A Council member shall be suspended by operation of law, without compensation, from office upon being granted probation before judgment for, upon the acceptance of a plea of nolo contendere by a court to, or upon being convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude. During the period of suspension the Council shall appoint a person to temporarily fill the elective office in the manner provided in Section 209 of this Charter. If the conviction becomes final, after judicial review or otherwise, the Council member shall be removed from office by operation of law and the office shall be deemed vacant.
A vacancy occurs when a Council member, prior to the expiration of the term for which elected, dies, resigns from office, or becomes disqualified to hold office pursuant to Section 208 of this Charter.
When a vacancy occurs, the remaining Council members within 30 days shall appoint a person to serve the unexpired term of office. The appointee shall be selected by a majority vote of the remaining Council members. The appointee shall meet the same qualifications and residence requirements and, when succeeding a party member, shall be a member of the same political party as the person who vacated office.
When succeeding a party member, the appointee shall be selected from a list of three persons submitted to the Council by the County central committee of the political party affiliated with the person vacating office, provided the list is submitted within 30 days from the date a vacancy occurs. If no such list is submitted within 30 days, or if the Council member vacating office is not a member of a political party, the Council shall appoint the person it deems best qualified to hold office regardless of his or her party affiliation, if any, provided the appointee meets the qualifications and residency requirements provided in Subsection (b) of this section.
If the Council fails to fill a vacancy pursuant to the provisions of this section, the Executive shall appoint a person to fill the vacancy, provided the appointee is nominated in accordance with the provisions of this section and meets its qualification and residency requirements.
At the first scheduled meeting of the Council in December following an election and biennially thereafter, the Council shall elect from among its members a President and Vice President of the Council. The President, or in the absence of the President, the Vice President, shall preside over meetings of the Council. The Council may provide for the selection of other officers as the Council may deem desirable for the exercise of its powers.
The Council may investigate the affairs of the County and the conduct of any County agency. The Council may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony, and require the production of evidence for purposes of this section.
Neither the Council nor any of its members shall appoint, dismiss, or give directions to any individual employee of the Executive Branch of the government.
The Council may by resolution, at its discretion and subject to the provisions of its budget or supplementary appropriation, employ administrative employees or such legal, financial or other advisors as it deems necessary to perform its functions.
The Council shall appoint by resolution a Redistricting Commission not later than April 1 of the year following each decennial census date. The central committee of each political party polling at least 25% of the total vote cast for the Executive at the last preceding general election shall nominate five persons to serve on the Commission. Each such list shall include one person who resides in each residency district. The Council shall appoint all such nominees as members of the Commission as well as one or two additional members of the Commission, as the case may be, to ensure that its total membership equals an odd number. The Council shall appoint the Chair of the Commission from among the Commission members. No person shall be eligible for appointment to the Commission who holds elective office.
By November 15 of the year before the year in which redistricting is to take effect, the Commission shall present to the Council a plan of residency districts, together with a report explaining it. Within 30 days of receiving the plan of the Commission, the Council shall hold a public hearing on the plan. If within 90 days after submission of the plan no other legislation reestablishing the boundaries of the residency districts has been enacted, the plan as submitted shall become law.
Any residency district established in accordance with this section shall be compact, contiguous, substantially equal in population, and have common interests as a result of geography, occupation, history, or existing political boundaries.
An ordinance establishing residency districts shall be exempt from referendum.