Howard County Times' picks for county council races in the primary election [Endorsements]

Three of the five Howard County Council races will have no contest in the primary. In fact, two incumbents, Jen Terrasa of District 3 and Mary Kay Sigaty of District 4, have no opponent even in the general election.

One incumbent who faces no primary race is District 2 Democrat Calvin Ball. Two Republicans, Reg Avery and Ralph Colavita, however, square off in the primary. Avery, a recently elected member of the Columbia Association, gets our endorsement. A resident of Oakland Mills, Avery is a consultant for government agencies who has served as vice president of PTA Council of Howard County. Avery, who ran unsuccessfully for this office four years ago, says he will focus his attention on schools, public safety and investments on public infrastructure should he be elected.

District 1 will have a new council representative with incumbent Courtney Watson vying for the county executive seat being vacated by Ken Ulman. On the Republican side, we believe Kevin Schmidt, a director of government relations for a software firm, receives the endorsement over defense contractor David Melton. Schmidt, in addition to campaigning on issues of government transparency and supporting funding for education and senior issues, has also advocated for the county to create a "neighborhood ambassador" to work with residents on zoning and development issues.

Four Democrats are facing off in the District 1 primary. David Grabowski, a former Planning Board chairman from Elkridge; Lisa Markovitz, a leader in the petition drive to bring recent zoning changes to referendum; Wendy Royalty, an Ellicott City resident who has been a social worker, and Jon Weinstein, an Ellicott City business owner. Each candidate brings a unique experience to the race but Weinstein's business experience, particularly his experience in public-private partnerships and his service on the county's spending affordability committee stand out.

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