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By Ben Orcutt -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Local residents are moving forward with a petition drive for a binding referendum on whether town elections should be moved from May to November.
Linda Allen, who is helping to collect signatures to petition a Warren County Circuit Court judge to order a public referendum on the question, said the drive started after the Town Council rejected the proposal.
"Well when they decided that 556 people who answered the survey [that] they would rather have the election in November and they chose not to pay attention to that part of the town survey, we decided that we would go ahead and see what the voters actually had to say," Allen said Tuesday.
On June 13, Mayor Timothy W. Darr cast the tie-breaking vote against moving the election to even years in November. Darr was joined in the majority by Vice Mayor Chris W. Holloway and Councilmen Carson C. Lauder Jr. and Hollis L. Tharpe. Councilmen Thomas E. Conkey, N. Shae Parker and Thomas H. Sayre voted for the switch.
In April, 556 of the 925 respondents to a town survey indicated they supported moving the election to November, while 260 favored keeping the voting in May.
Allen said canvassers have to collect the signatures of 10 percent of the registered voters to get the issue on the May ballot. To date, they have collected a couple hundred of the roughly 850 signatures that will be necessary, but Allen said she and others in the effort are confident they will get the necessary signatures.
"Oh, absolutely," Allen said, adding that she and fellow town resident Leonard Sherp received a warm welcome recently while canvassing on South Marshall Street.
"It was easy as pie to get signatures and people knew what we were talking about," Allen said. "We weren't making a political speech for one or the other. We were just simply asking if we could put it on the ballot and people were telling us they wanted it to be in November."
Sherp said that canvassers will be at the Royal Plaza Shopping Center on Saturday collecting signatures.
"Saturday's going to be our first real set-up of a booth," Sherp said.
Sherp said that he has collected 70 signatures and Allen has collected more than 60. There are about 11 people collecting signatures, and Sherp said that he has contacted them to get a more accurate count of the total collected.
"People are going to be turning in their signed petitions to me," Sherp said. "I'm going to be the repository."
The language on the petition simply states whether the election should be changed from May to November, Sherp said.
"The petition that we're circulating is position neutral," Sherp added. "So, I mean I've had people who are in favor of May elections sign the petition as you would expect people in favor of November. So it truly is in response to the question, to the statement, let the citizens decide. OK, but in order to do that we have to be on the ballot and so people are volunteering their signatures."