The primary election for state and local candidates is fast approaching: the June 24 polling date is, as of today, less than a month away.

This year, with eight wide-open state-level House and Senate seats and a vacancy on the County Council and for Howard's top seat of county executive, voters have a lot of decisions to make.

This week's political notebook brings you a rundown of the essentials all in one place. For more in-depth information, a profile on each candidate can be found through a quick search on our website at

Of course, in a campaign season in which allotting one sentence per primary candidate is enough to fill a page, quick summaries are bound to leave a lot to be desired – so be sure to check back over the next three weeks for features on key races and more ahead of the primary.

And in the meantime, keep in mind another looming deadline: June 3 at 9 p.m. is the last day to register to vote or make changes to your registration before the primary. To check your status, polling place and what districts you're in, go to

County executive

Neither Democratic candidate Courtney Watson, a County Council member, nor Republican candidate Allan Kittleman, a state senator, has any same-party competition to face in the primaries, but voters can expect to see both sides amp up the campaigning after June.

County Council

Only two council districts will have primary races this election, but one of them – District 1 – has more candidates than council seats.

The historically moderate district, which represents Ellicott City, Elkridge and Hanover, has no incumbent candidate now that Watson, the current council member, is running for county executive. Four Democrats and two Republicans have stepped up to fill the void.

Democratic voters have a choice among Jon Weinstein, an Ellicott City businessman who was the first to announce his candidacy and has the lead in funds and endorsements; former Planning Board chair Dave Grabowski, who has strong ties to the Elkridge community; citizen activist Lisa Markovitz, who has been the leader of a push to bring a handful of recent zoning changes to referendum; and Wendy Royalty, an Ellicott City resident and last-minute entrant to the race who has been a social worker in Baltimore City and a public affairs representative for Planned Parenthood.

Republicans in the district will choose between Kevin Forrest Schmidt, the director of government relations for a threat detection software firm, and Fort Meade defense contractor David Melton.

District 2, which encompasses east Columbia and parts of Ellicott City, will have a Republican primary. Reg Avery, who was recently elected to the Columbia Association board, where he represents Oakland Mills, will run against Ralph Colavita, who has yet to be interviewed for a profile but works as a consultant for the energy and water industry, according to his campaign website.

Calvin Ball, the District 2 incumbent and current County Council chair, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Council member Jen Terrasa, a Democrat who represents the southeast county in District 3, and Council member Mary Kay Sigaty, a Democrat who represents west Columbia in District 4, are running for re-election and have no challengers -- Democrat or Republican – for their seats.

In District 5, the incumbent, Republican Greg Fox, won't face any primary challengers, but he will have a general-election opponent in Alan Schneider, a Clarksville attorney who has been involved in the referendum effort.

State House

Just one incumbent senator and three incumbent delegates are running to retain their current seats, which means there will be a lot of new blood in the Howard delegation when the General Assembly session reconvenes in Annapolis next January.

In District 9, Democrats are hoping to pick up a seat in the west county as Allan Kittleman leaves his state Senate post behind to run for county executive. Two candidates have stepped up: Daniel Medinger, an Ellicott City resident who runs a small media business, will run against Ryan Frederic, who owns three businesses, including Columbia-based Applied Defense Solutions, an aerospace security firm.

The Democratic candidate will run against current District 9A Del. Gail Bates, who doesn't face any primary challengers.