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Ellicott City

Weinstein, Schmidt win Howard Council primaries

There were few surprises, and even fewer voters, in the local Howard County races as voting results from Tuesday's primary election trickled in.

In the hotly contested County Council District 1 races, Democrat and consulting business owner Jon Weinstein emerged from a field of four by a narrow margin – capturing 33.1 percent of the 4,826 votes. Lisa Markovitz, a local referendum activist, and Wendy Royalty, a former Planned Parenthood vice president of public affairs, trailed close behind, getting 28.9 percent and 26.2 percent of the votes, respectively. Former Planning Board member Dave Grabowski garnering 11.7 percent of the votes.

Weinstein said he was "exhilarated" by the win, and that it was a culmination of "a lot of hard work."

He added that he is ready to move onto the general election, where he said he thinks his message about bringing a balanced approach to the council will resonate with both Democrats and Republicans.

"I bring a little bit of a different perspective than a typical Democrat," he said. "I feel the message we have been delivering will resonate with all types of voters."

In the Republican race for the District 1 seat, Kevin Forrest Schmidt, vice president of government relations for a Washington-based security firm, defeated David Blake Melton, a Fort Meade defense contractor, by winning 65.3 percent of the 2,005 votes.

"I'm grateful that the citizens of Howard County have chosen me for the next step," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said he feels "very strong" about his chances facing off against Weinstein in the general election. The seat has been occupied by Courtney Watson – a Democrat running for county executive – for the past eight years and is considered the most competitive district in the county.

"This is a moderate district; the independent voice is going to be strong in this district," Schmidt said. "I'm used to working with both sides of the aisle ... and that will be proven out as the election goes on."

In the Republican race for District 2, Ralph Colavita led Reg Avery, a Columbia Association Board member, with 63 percent of the 1,304 votes cast.

Colavita could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

The winner will face off against incumbent and two-term councilman Calvin Ball, the favorite running uncontested on the Democratic ticket.

In the state's attorney race, incumbent Dario Broccolino opened up a big lead on challenger Rich Gibson. Broccolino has captured 68.9 percent of the 21,914 votes cast, while Gibson has 31 percent. There is no Republican state's attorney candidate.

Broccolino, who has held the office since 2007, credited his victory to his name recognition, track record within the county, and the success of the office under his guidance.

"I'm gratified not only for myself but for all the assistance I've received," Broccolino said. "We put together an outstanding office."

He said the campaign was amicable, and that Gibson, 37, is "a young, bright guy" but said his youth may have worked against him.

Incumbent James Fitzgerald has a lead on newcomer John Newnan in the sheriff's race. Fitzgerald has 68.7 percent of the 21,076 votes.

Fitzgerald, who was endorsed by the sheriff's union and Howard County police union, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

There was also a contested race for the Judge of the Orphans' Court in the Democratic party. Leading that race among the four vying for three seats are: Anne Dodd, 28.9 percent; Leslie Smith Turner, 28.8 percent; and Nicole Bormel Miller, 23.2 percent.

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