Laurel primary elections

Zabrina Epps (right), a candidate for the District 1 school board seat, campaigned outside Oaklands Elementary Tuesday afternoon alongside Bowie High freshman Langston Frazier (left), who was there to support Epps' competitor, David Murray. (Photo by Melanie Dzwonchyk, Patuxent Publishing / April 3, 2012)

Chonya Johnson, a Laurel resident that ran for the District 1 school board in 2010, was in Laurel campaigning for another school board candidate today: Zabrina Epps.

"I was originally working with (school board candidate) Mike McLaughlin," Johnson said as she greeted voters in the parking lot of Oaklands Elementary in South Laurel Tuesday. But after McLaughlin announced he was withdrawing from the race, Johnson said, she switched her support to Epps, who is an academic advisor at the Community College of Baltimore County and lives in the Patuxent Greens neighborhood of South Laurel.

"I'm impressed with what she's bringing to the table," Johnson said, citing Epps' experience with budgets and working with students. She said supporting Epps was "a no-brainer."

In the 2010 primary, Johnson finished third behind incumbent Rosalind Johnson and newcomer David Murray, who is now her primary competitor as he is running a second time. Rosalind Johnson went on to win re-election in 2010, but is not seeking the seat for another term.

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Turnout by mid-day continued to be light at Laurel precincts, which allowed campaigners to spend time bending the ears of the few voters who parked and walked their way.

But the light turnout didn't stop Epps from saying she "felt good" about the primary.

"I'm a newcomer, I've rallied support from city and state elected officials," she said. Among her supporters, Epps said, are Laurel Mayor Craig Moe, and she was recently endorsed by The Washington Post.

In a primary election where "there's no real big challenges," turnout is expected to be light, an election judge said in explaining the slow trickle of voters at the Robert J. DiPietro Community Center on Cypress Street in Laurel this morning.

"We got about 150 people so far," Lester Ham, one of two chief election judges at the polling site, said at 10:15 a.m. "By this time last (election), we had about 300."

Polls for today's presidential primary election opened at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

After casting her vote at the community center shortly before 10 a.m., Barbara Trigeiro said "the turnout was very low so far," but she noted it was early. She added: "Everything was very well organized as usual."

Deena and Ray Groshong commented on how "easy" the voting process was. Ray Groshong said they expected things to be slow after 10 a.m. and that's why they came at that time.

Asked if they came out for a specific race, the couple said "no."

"Just our duty to vote," Deena Groshong said. The couple declined to say who they voted for.

Tracy Johnson was also drawn to vote by the feeling it is her civic duty.

"I just wanted to do my part," she said, noting if you don't vote, "you can't complain."

Having previously voted at the community center, Johnson said she was surprised she "got in and got out" so quickly.

"It's always a line or crowded," she said.

Johnson, a Democrat, said she voted for President Obama, and even though he's running unopposed, she's proud of her vote.

"I have much respect for him and I think he's doing a great job," she said.